The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iiweala on Tuesday called for caution with the rising wage bill of the public sector, noting that it could erode gains recorded for economic stability.
Addressing a forum of the organised private sector and Civil Society Organisations in Abuja on Tuesday, to deliberate on issues that will guide the preparation of the 2013 Budget, Dr Iweala said that the federal government is presently spending huge funds in the payment of personnel.
According to the Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Dr Bright Okogu, the wage bill of the public sector, quadrupled from N443 billion to N1.659trillion between 2009-2012.
A situation which he says is not healthy for any nation craving for transformation.
Dr Okonjo-Iweala called for the reduction of Ministries, Departments and Agencies as stated in the Stephen Orasanye report, to check leakages needed to grow other sectors of the economy.
Further speaking, Dr Okogu also revealed that the share of personnel cost as percentage of aggregate expenditure increased from 27 per cent of the total federal government spending to 34 per cent in 2012.
While these government officials are canvassing a cut on spending to meet up with the challenges affecting the country, members of the private sector, led by the president, National Association of Small and Medium Entrepreneurs, Garba Gusau, advised that funds saved from such leakages be channelled into activities that would grow the businesses of entrepreneurs thereby creating jobs for the unemployed.
A similar recommendation was earlier made in the year by the Presidential Committee on the Rationalisation and Restructuring of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies in an 800 paged report which recommended the reduction of the nation’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) which are 541 in number, to 163.
The federal government was advised to scrap the nation’s anti-graft graft agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practice Commission (ICPC) and 375 other agencies citing inefficiency and replication of duties at a huge cost on the nation’s purse.