Amid rising debts, the Federal Government has increased the Duty Allowances of ministers, permanent secretaries and other civil servants in the federal public service effective September 1, 2022.
According to The Punch, a circular from the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, with reference SWC/C/04/S.6/II/333, dated August 31, 2022, and titled, “Review of Duty Tour Allowance in the Federal Public Service.” confirmed this.
Those who received the circular includes; the Chief of Staff to the President, Minister/Minister of State, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Clerk of the National Assembly, among others.
Increment in the duty tour allowance is coming at the reels of Nigeria’s rising debt profile, which, according to the Debt Management Office, stands at N41.6trn as at March 2022.
Financial and economic experts are raising concerns about the rising debts, warning that Nigeria might become unable to service the loans, which may plunge the country into deeper economic hardship.
The circular partly reads, “The President of the Federal of Nigeria has approved the upward review of Duty Tour Allowances applicable to permanent secretary/equivalent from N20,000 to N70,000, and to Minister/SGF/HCSF/equivalent from N35,000 to N80,000.
“This approval takes effect from September 1, 2022. Given the above, and further to our Circular No. SWC/S/04/S.6/II/208 dated February 2, 2022 on the above-mentioned subject, the comprehensive list and Duty Tour Allowances are as follows: Grade Level 01 to 04 and its equivalent – N10,000 per diem.”
Others include Grade Level 05 to 06 and equivalent would get N15,000/diem; Grade Level 07 to 10 and equivalent, N17,500/diem; Grade Level 12 to 13 and equivalent, N20,000/diem; Grade Level 14 to 15 and equivalent, N25,000/diem; Grade Level 16 and 17 and its equivalent, N37,000/diem.
Permanent secretary/equivalent would henceforth get N70,000/diem; while minister/SGF/HCSF/equivalent would now get N80,000/diem as DTA.
The commission stated that all enquiries relating to the circular should be directed to the NSIWC. The agency’s Chairman, Ekpo Nta, signed the circular.
The authenticity of the circular was confirmed by the spokesperson of the NSIWC, Emma Njoku, as a former President, Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, Dr Sam Nzekwe, wondered why the government was still raising its recurrent expenditure amidst Nigeria’s mounting debt.
“Our debt is high as a country and the government should be looking for ways to reduce and not further increase it. Recurrent expenditure is so high because the cost of governance is high,” he Nzekwe.
He added, “We should stop taking initiatives that would continue to raise our debt because it is not good for our economy and our rating globally.”
On Thursday the Director-General, DMO, Patience Oniha, confirmed that Nigeria’s total debt profile as at March, 2022 stood at N41.60tn, attributing the high debt profile to shortfall in revenues and the deficit in the annual budget as approved by the National Assembly.
Oniha added, “We have been running deficit budget for many years and each time you approve a budget with a deficit, by the time we raise money, because when you approve it is giving us a mandate, authority to borrow, it will reflect in the debt stock, so the debt stock will increase.
“Also note that states are also borrowing. So we add their own. They also have laws governing their borrowings and as debt stock increases, so does debt service. Until the issues of personnel, overhead and capital expenditure are properly addressed in the budget, borrowing would not stop.”