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New Minimum Wage Gets More Approval …Buhari Inaugurates Advisory Panel …Labour Monitors NASS

President Muhamamdu Buhari yesterday inaugurated a Technical Advisory Committee on the implementation of the new National Minimum Wage and reiterated his commitment to its payment.

Inaugurating the committee shortly before the Federal Executive Council meeting, Buhari restated his commitment to an upward review of the minimum wage “as it is time to do so’’.

He said the committee would recommend “modalities for the implementation of the new minimum wage in such a manner as to minimise its inflationary impact, as well as ensure that its introduction does not lead to job losses’’.

“The work of this Technical Committee will be the basis of a Finance Bill which will be submitted to the National Assembly, alongside the Minimum Wage Bill,’’ he added.

He, however, revealed that the Federal Government had engaged State Governments with a view to taking them along in determining any upward review of the minimum wage for workers.

“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 governors to pay workers as and when due,’’ he said.

He said the federal government on its part had made adequate provision for the increase in the Minimum Wage in its 2019 Budget proposals which was submitted to the National Assembly on Dec. 19, 2018.

According to the president, the federal government will be able to meet the additional costs 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.”

Buhari, therefore, expressed the hope that “the implementation of a new minimum wage does not adversely affect these targets, and thereby erode the envisaged gains for the workers.

According to the president, the committee, which will be chaired by an economist and financial expert, Mr Bismarck Rewane, is expected to complete its deliberations and submit its report and recommendations within one month.

Meanwhile, President of Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba said the leadership of the labour movement would insist on a firm commitment so that government will not renege on its promise to send a bill on the N30,000 new national minimum wage to the National Assembly on or before January 23.

Speaking with journalists at theend of their meeting with the federal government, Wabba, said he would brief all the labour organs and give them all the details contained in the Memorandum of Understanding.

He said, “We have finally been able to reach a clear understanding on the processes and timeline for this bill to be transmitted. We are committed to the process and hope that the timeline will be respected. We will put this across to our organs and give them all the details contained in the Memorandum of understanding,”

Waaba said, “We want the agreement to be documented and signed by government representatives. With that, we can follow up on the process. This thing has been on the table for more than two years and having submitted the report, we expect that the bill should have been submitted.

“The National Assembly will be back on January 16 from their recess, so on or before January 23, the bill must have been transmitted. We know that the National Assembly is desirous of making sure that workers in Nigeria have decent wage, they will also be able to do the needful. We will shift our lobby to the National Assembly because once the bill is enacted, the money will be in the pocket of the workers.” he said.

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