By Ayo Kehinde
The the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, OAGF, has reacted to claims reportedly made the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU that Integrated Personal Payment System, IPPIS was deducting their salaries and allowances to the extent that their take home is now only 50 per cent or less of what they earn.
According to the OAGF office in a statement signed by Mr Henshaw Ogubike, Director, Press and Information and Public Relations, on Monday, that statement by the ASUU was misleading and farther from the truth
The statement reads in part; “The Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Tax is a statutory tax deductions paid by all salary earners. IPPIS applied the correct rate in compliance with Section 34 of the 6th schedule on personal income tax (Amendment) Act of 2011.
“Prior to migration to IPPIS, the rate of tax being applied by tertiary institutions was not correct, leading to underpayment of PAYE Tax.
“It is important to note that all states governments of the federation made claims on the federal government to pay the differential arising from underpayment of tax by these institutions. The federal government has paid several billions on behalf of these institutions because of their underpayment of PAYE Tax. The request by the tertiary institution unions to formalize tax evasion through IPPIS is not only untenable, but unpatriotic request to violate extant laws on tax.
Clarifying other issues that has kept the lecturers at loggerhead with the Federal Government for months on end, Ogubuike said, the National Housing Fund, NHF, is a 2.5 per cent is a savings contribution by all federal employees to enable them have access to short life loans to own their personal houses. These savings, which he said are statutory contribution backed by the Act of the National Assembly, are refundable with interest either at retirement or exit from being an employee of the federal government.
“The ASUU is bringing claims that those laws should not be applicable to them and thereby should be exempted or be made optional for them. The request for breach of Act of Parliament is not within the ambit of the IPPIS or the (OAGF). They have been advised to approach the National Assembly for amendment of the Act, ” he said.
On the the Employees’ Pension Contribution deductions, he said in the statement that Employees’ Pension Contribution of 7.5 per cent, which ASUU claim should be based on basic salary and not on consolidated salary because it has increased their employee deductions thereby reducing their take home, is unsubstantiated.
He said the Consolidated salary is what is applicable to determine employee’s contribution of all Federal employees’ as Salaries Income and Wages Commission (SIWC) have consolidated salary without the composition. Deduction is in line with the Pension Contributory Act.
“On payment of allowances, it should be stated that this is based on the salary structure as approved by Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (SIWC). However, the OAGF has advised the tertiary institutions academic unions to approach the Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (SIWC) to formalize any agreement on salaries and allowances that they claim to have been approved for them.
“This is because the Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (SIWC) is the only body authorized by law to prescribe salary structure and issue circulars for all federal government employees in Nigeria, while Revenue Mobilization, Allocation And Fiscal Commission is the sister body that is authorized by law to issue circular on payment of salary and allowances to political office holders.
Other areas that attracted response by the OAGF are sabbatical leave for visiting and adjoin lecturers. Union dues, non-payment of promotion and consequential allowance, payment slips, promotion and Bank Verification Number, BVN.
On sabbatical, he said the payment of sabbatical aid visiting lecturers is duly recognized by IPPIS, but it is dependent on furnishing the IPPIS with the particulars of such lecturers, including his IPPIS number, his primary institution, the start date of the sabbatical or the visiting and the end date.
“Government recognizes the fact that all staff on sabbatical are entitled to 100% of their salaries as sabbatical allowances, while visiting and adjunct lecturers will enjoy 50% of their salaries as visiting allowance. The government will no longer incur unnecessary expenditure on pension, NHIS or such allowances that are not part of universities pensionable salaries.
“On the issue of Union Dues, it should be stated that 2% of their consolidated salary was deducted as union dues. This was done so that the government would not be accused of denying them the dues, as they claim that the federal government is trying to use IPPIS to incapacitate them.
“It must be noted that the remittance of union deductions can only be legally made when the tertiary institutions and their union members forward the list of their members and their IPPIS numbers to enable IPPIS determine the actual amount to be remitted to each union.
He disclosed that government started payment of lecturers through IPPIS in February and asked the lecturers to hold their various institutions liable for non-payment of their salaries up to January 2020, adding that, “this office is not unaware that there are bound to be teething challenges arising from migration of tertiary institutions onto IPPIS platform and this requires the cooperation and understanding of all the tertiary institutions to enable us effect the necessary corrections as quickly as possible.
“On the issue of pay slips, the IPPIS had forwarded pay slips for February, March and April 2020 to the mail box of Bursars of the tertiary institutions to enable them generate such pay slips and distribute to their staff while the institutions have been advised to furnish IPPIS with active emails of their staff to enable IPPIS forward individual pay slips to their various emails in addition to bulk release of pay slips to the various institutions.
“As regards non receipt of salaries after payment; this arose because the names on the payroll are not in uniformity with the names in the bank. Employees are expected to update their bank details in conformity with names on the payroll as efforts to change payroll names in the banks is not allowed, except where there is a change of name as a result of marriage.
“The IPPIS platform does not recognize joint accounts operated by two or more persons. Every salary payment is personal.
“BVN as a way of confirming all account numbers of the tertiary institutions that are sent to IPPIS were forwarded to the relevant agencies for validation and confirmation. About 1,180 failed the BVN test and details have been forwarded to the universities for the necessary correction and update.
“On the alleged payment to dead university staff. It means the Institutions deliberately forwarded to IPPIS the list containing dead ASUU members as being part of their personnel, to get more personnel fund. When President directed that ASUU be paid, the OAGF sent a letter, through NUC Executive Secretary, requesting for the list of ASUU members through their VCs. We run BVN test on the list forwarded to us as we are aware that we cannot use the old nominal roll because of changes that might have likely taken place.”