By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—THE House of Representatives yesterday passed into second reading a Bill seeking an amendment to the Minimum Wage Act 2004 to reverse the exclusion of companies that have foreign interests from the list of establishments exempted from payment of National Minimum Wage in the country.
The Bill which was sponsored by Rep Peter Akpatason, APC, Edo State was titled “A Bill for an Act to Amend the National Minimum Wage Act Cap N6, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 to exclude the Establishments that have foreign participation from the list of Establishments exempted from the Payment of the National Minimum Wage and for Other Matter Related Thereto.”
In his lead debate, Rep Akpatason said it was regrettable that companies that make millions and billions of Naira in Nigeria do not have up to fifty(50) workers, yet do not pay the National Minimum Wage of eighteen thousand naira (N18,000).
According to him, the inclusion of foreign-owned companies from the list of establishments that were excluded from the payment of minimum wage had done a great disservice to the nation in terms of its revenue.
He explained that in Section (6) sub-section (3) of the existing Act,the Attorney-General of the Federation has the discretion to determine who to prosecute or not in terms of contraventions of the law on payment of the national minimum wage.
While urging the lawmakers to support the proposed amendment, he noted that in the last amendment to the existing Act, the interpretation of the foreign companies included those that have up to 50 per cent equity participation by foreigners.
The House Bill was unanimously passed into second reading when the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara who presided over the plenary called for a voice vote.
The Speaker later referred the matter to the House Committee on Labour, Employment and Productivity for more legislative inputs.