Uche Usim, Abuja
The Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation (OAGF) on Monday said that the deductions from the salaries of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) were in order as it would resist any attempt to use the Integrated Personnel Information System (IPPIS) as a platform to evade taxes.
Monday’s response clearly shows that the crisis between the two bodies has deteriorated.
The OAGF in a statement revealed that ASUU for several years underpaid the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Tax running into billions.
According to the OAGF, the rate of tax being applied by tertiary institutions across the country was not correct, a development that led to underpayment of PAYE tax.
It added that because of the underpayment “states governments of the federation made claims on the federal government to pay the differential arising from underpayment of tax by these institutions.”
Having bowed to the intense pressure from the state governments, the OAGF stated that the federal government had to pay several billions on behalf of these institutions to put things in proper perspective.
It said: “the request by the tertiary institution unions to formalize tax evasion through Integrated Personnel Information System (IPPIS) is not only untenable, but unpatriotic request to violate extant laws on tax.”
On the demand for Bank Verification Number (BVN) from ASUU members before they can be paid, the OAGF revealed that about 1,180 ASUU members “failed the BVN test and details have been forwarded to the universities for the necessary correction and update.”
According to the OAGF, “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” but over a thousand ASUU bungled their information.
On non receipt of salaries after others have been paid, the Accountant General stated that “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 the Office said “does not recognize joint accounts operated by two or more persons. Every salary payment is personal.”
On the alleged payment to dead university staff, the OAGF noted that “the Institutions deliberately forwarded to IPPIS the list containing dead ASUU members as being part of their personnel, to get more personnel fund.”
According to the OAGF, “it is the responsibility of the Institutions or Agencies to inform the IPPIS office about death, resignation or exit from service before due date. We sent payroll analysis to the tertiary institution Bursars for review of any omission or names to be excluded.”
On payment of allowances and salaries, the OAGF argued that “any other salaries and allowances approved by any other agency in Nigeria which are not formalized by the Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (SIWC) will amount to illegal payment.
“Therefore, the OAGF urged ASUU and other unions to understand this. “The fact that they arm-twisted their institutions to pay them these allowances does not translate to legality.”
On payments for sabbatical visits and adjunct lecturers the OAGF stated that “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 it said “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 OAGF warned ASUU that “government will no longer incur unnecessary expenditure on pension, NHIS or such allowances that are not part of universities pensionable salaries.
“Another issue raised by the unions is the Employees’ Pension Contribution deductions. Employees’ Pension Contribution 7.5%
The ASUU claims that the Employee Contributory Pension should be based on basic salary and not on consolidated salary and it has increased their employee deductions thereby reducing their take home.
This is a penny wise argument not expected from Ivory Tower.
“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”, the OAGF stated.