Reports say Mozambique’s government has discovered more than 30 000 ghost workers on the civil service payroll.

The civil service minister Carmelita Namashulua said some were paid for jobs they had not done, others were dead or fictitious.

The fraud had cost the government around $250m (£198m) between 2015 and 2017, said the minister.

She said the government recognised that state corruption was still a major problem in Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest nations.

The southern African nation is ranked 153 out of 180 countries by watchdog Transparency International in its global corruption perceptions index.

Ms Namashulua said other serious challenges facing the country included favouritism, nepotism, illicit charges for admitting people to jobs in public administration and the falsification of licences.

Reports say the government carried out proof-of-life tests, meaning that all civil service employees had to appear in person at a specified office to prove that they really existed.

At the end of the audit, those who failed to turn up stopped receiving their wages.

The check, conducted over two years, investigated a total of 348 000 workers.

Earlier this year, the government outlined plans to try and control spending, especially the public payroll that absorbs 55 percent of tax revenue, according to the state agency AIM.