By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Monsur Olowoopejo
LAGOS—Uncomfortable with various tax payments in the state, civil servants in Lagos State have demanded for an immediate reduction in the Pay as You Earn, PAYE, tax deducted by the state government from their monthly salary.
The workers also called for an urgent review of the salary structure of the state workers which they stressed is causing disparity among the state and their federal counterparts.
They made these demands at the stakeholders meeting of the committee on the development of pay policy, review system and salary determination of Lagos State held in Lagos.
They argued that the huge amount of tax deducted from their monthly salary has reduced their purchasing power as against the increasing price of goods and services in the state.
The civil servants further argued that the tax deducted from their monthly salary is at par with Federal Government workers but there is no similarity in terms of their basic salary, adding that it is gross injustice.
The committee on the development of pay policy, review system and salary determination of Lagos State Civil Servants was inaugurated by Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos state on August 16, 2010.
The committee is saddled with the responsibility of reviewing the current pay system of civil servants and political office holders in the state.
Speaking at the forum, Mrs. Toyin Bowale said: “We agree that taxes deducted from state civil servants is a Federal Government policy. Then if it is a Federal Government policy, and both state government and federal government workers are been affected by the policy, there should not be disparity between both set of workers.”
Mrs. Monisola Ojo said “The only way the state government can make civil servants in the state happy is to reduce our tax.”
“When we talk about salary that is the reason why any worker wakes up in the morning and go to work, I know that Lagos state is a mega-city with large workforce and for any city that is mega, the salary of any state worker should be mega. I am appealing that our basic salary should be critically reviewed because basic salary is too poor.
Review our basic salary, the basic salary of Lagos state workers is poor that is what our emolument will be worked upon when we are about to retired from the service.
Why can I put in 35 years into service and when I am retiring as a chief matron, my gratuity will be N2million and that of Federal Civil Servant will be N8 million.”
Responding, the Commissioner for Establishment, Training and Pension, Mr. Jide Sanwoolu explained that the reason for the disparity between the Lagos State Civil Servants and their federal counterparts is due to the difference in the revenue of both governments.
Sanwolu said: “It is unfortunate but we are in a federating state but we will do everything to ameliorate the welfare of our workers.”
On the activities that will be done by the state government, the commissioner, stressed, “the state government will do it in terms of giving free health care to the workers, distributing cars to staff and other things that will make them still be at par with federal civil servants, “but if it is for us to pay beyond federal government, we are not under any threat but it will be based on our efficiency as we do not have any limitation on what we can pay.”
Sanwoolu noted; “What you will see at the end of the day is that we will fashion out a process in which it will be a win- win situation in which both parties will benefit from. It is an attempt for us to put our future in our hands.
Also speaking on the demands of the workers, the state Head of Service, Mr. Segun Ogunlewe said; “We have had meetings with the labour leaders on the issue and it has already been addressed because during the meetings, your representatives pointed out that whenever the tax is deducted from your salary, what is left in your purse is not enough to sustain you for the rest of the months.”
He added that on the issue of entry point, the issue is currently being addressed by the national council for establishment in the country.
The Managing Director of C-Set Consultant, Mr. Aderemi Adegboye while speaking on the importance of the committee, said the reason the state government set-up the committee was to minimize the amount of time that it takes to set up a committee whenever there was the need for salary review in the state.
Adegboye continued; “After we have drawn the scale on how we want to improve the salary of civil servants, we will then sit side by side with the state officials to exchange information before the final agreement is reached on the salary of the state civil servants that will commensurate with the income of the state government.
“It is not yet time for us to determine the total amount of salary to be earn by any worker because the committee will still have to meet with the state government and the workers representatives and during the course of their deliberation, many things will be put into consideration before the basic salary of the state workers will be determined,” he said.
The consultant however, urged the workers to call on the national assembly to act fast on the issue of tax.