The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors has blamed the Ministry of Finance for non-payment of the federally approved hazard pay increase.

NARD Chairman Dr Dare Ishaya, who spoke to our correspondent, said hazard pay money was budgeted, but the Federal Ministry of Finance had yet to release it.

Saturday PUNCH reports that the federal government had in December 2021 increased risk allowances applicable to healthcare workers in its healthcare facilities across the country.

The increase was contained in a circular bearing the reference SWC/S/04/S.218/11/406 dated December 22, 2021 by the president of the National Commission for Salaries, Income and Wages.

It read in part: “Regarding the revision of the risk allocation applicable to health care workers in the services of federal hospitals, medical centers and clinics of ministries, departments and agencies.

“Hazard pay was revised to a flat rate ranging from N5,000 to between N15,000 and N34,000 for health workers on the CONHESS salary structure, while CONMESS doctors saw theirs pass from 5,000 N to between 32,000 N and N40,000.

However, Ishaya said the finance ministry has yet to release the money for the revised hazard pay.

He said: “We think we will progress, but the things I see on the pitch are not favourable. The problem actually comes from the Department of Finance; the money was budgeted but they did not release the money for us to enjoy. We have not been able to determine exactly what the problems are because seven months later there is no plan. This month has already passed too.

“We learned from the Accountant General’s office that they were using the old payroll and hazard rate, no guidance from the Ministry of Finance to apply the new hazard allowance.”

The NARD chairman said his efforts to see Finance, Budget and National Planning Minister Zainab Ahmed on the matter had been unsuccessful.

He added: “I went there (Ministry of Finance) several times, I was blocked. I was not able to see the permanent secretary in charge of special tasks at the ministry; the only person I’ve been able to talk to is the director of cash management for that department. It’s a low level of engagement and I wouldn’t say there’s progress because they can come in tomorrow and deny they don’t know anything.

“The money is there; it has been budgeted, but it remains to be released for payment. If it was not budgeted, we will blame the authorities responsible for budgeting.

“We gave an ultimatum; we did a follow up and it doesn’t seem to work.

“We wrote to the Ministry of Finance; it took them almost three weeks before the letter reached the Minister’s table; we wrote them before the communiqué and the ultimatum.

The punch previously reported that the medical residents had issued a two-week ultimatum to the federal government on July 30, 2022 to implement all agreements it had with the association or they would embark on an indefinite strike.

The association’s demands include payment of the newly revised Medical Education Fund; and the immediate implementation and payment of the new risk premium and arrears, among others.

Contacted by telephone, the press/information director of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Ms. Phil Abiamuwe-Mowete, asked that an SMS be sent to her on this subject. She had yet to respond to the text message sent to her at the time of this report’s filing.