Politics

MINIMUM WAGE: Buhari raises hope, inaugurates another committee

MINIMUM WAGE: Buhari raises hope, inaugurates another committee

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja inaugurated a Technical Advisory Committee on the implementation of the proposed new national minimum wage.

According to the President, the committee is to be chaired by an Economist and Financial Expert, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, will among other things “develop, and advise government on how to successfully bring about a smooth implementation of impending wage increases.”

He said given the urgency, that the committee is expected to complete its deliberations and submit its report and recommendations within one month today.

President Buhari had last year inaugurated a Tripartite Committee which recommended N30,000 new minimum wage for Nigerian workers.

The report had remained with the President without any concrete action taken for its implementation. The development saw Labour Union and its members embark on a nationwide protest on Monday, demanding that the President send the new minimum wage to the National Assembly for approval.

Soon after the protest, President Buhari promised he was going to submit the new wage to the lawmakers.

Speaking during the inauguration of the committee, Buhari said: “The last time Nigeria’s national minimum wage was reviewed was in 2011. It is therefore evident that a review is necessary, despite the prevailing fiscal challenges. This is why I constituted the Tripartite Committee of Government, organized private sector and labour to consider the national minimum wage and make recommendations to government for its upward review.

“That committee has since submitted its report with some recommendations. We are currently working on the final steps that will lead to the submission of a National Minimum Wage Amendment Bill to the National Assembly.

“I want to make it clear that there is no question about whether the National Minimum Wage will be reviewed upwards. I am committed to a review of the Minimum Wage.

“Also, it is important to explain that even though the subject of a National Minimum Wage is in the Exclusive Legislative List, we have been meeting with the State Governors because it is imperative that the Federal Government carries the State Governments along in determining any upward review of the minimum wage for workers.

“This is especially necessary considering the prevailing public sector revenue challenges, which have made it extremely difficult for some of the governments to pay workers as and when due.

“As you know we, at the Federal level, have made adequate provision for the increase in the Minimum Wage in our 2019 Budget proposals which we submitted to the National Assembly. Therefore, we will be able to meet the additional costs that will be incurred in moving up all personnel who are currently earning below the new minimum wage.

“However, we anticipate that after the new minimum wage has been passed into law we will be going into negotiations for salary review for all the workers who are already earning above the new minimum wage. It is therefore important that we are properly prepared to meet these demands.

“We must therefore look at ways of implementing these consequential wage adjustments in a manner that does not have adverse effects on our national development plans, as laid out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). The ERGP sets appropriate targets for levels of Capital Expenditure, Public Debt, Inflation, Employment, etc. It is absolutely important that the implementation of a new minimum wage does not adversely affect these targets, and thereby erode the envisaged gains for the workers.

“It is against this background that I have set up a Technical Committee to advise government on how best to fund, in a sustained manner, the additional costs that will arise from the implementation of the consequential increases in salaries and allowances for workers currently earning above the new minimum wage.”

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The Terms of Reference of the Committee are:

“a. To develop, and advise government on how to successfully bring about a smooth implementation of impending wage increases;

b. Identify new revenue sources, as well as areas of existing expenditure from where some savings could be made in order to fund the wage increases without adversely impacting the nation’s development goals as set out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan;

c. Propose a work plan and modalities for the implementation of the salary increases;

d. Any other suggestions that will assist in the implementation of this, and future wage increases.”

Buhari added: “Given the urgency of this exercise, the Committee is expected to complete its deliberations and submit its report and recommendations within one month today.”

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