..C’ttee briefs Economic Council next week
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – THE Federal Government has set up a sub-committee to look at different scenarios especially on the financial implications of the new minimum wage.
The Government Economic Management Team, EMT, comprising the ministers of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige and Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachukwu had met on Tuesday to review the ongoing negotiation on the new minimum wage.
Also present at the meeting that lasted late night were the Executive Chairman, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Comnission, Richard Egbule, Director General Budget Office, Ben Akabueze, and Comptroller General (CG) of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Hameed Ali.
The meeting was presided over by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo at Vice President’s Conference Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
But Vanguard reliably gathered that after deliberations, a sub committee was set up to have a holistic review on the financial implications of the proposed new wage.
The sub committee is made up of the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, the Director-General of Budget Office, Ben Akabueze and the Executive Chairman, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Richard Egbule.
A source at the meeting said, “We are looking at different scenarios, that is the financial implications,” adding that the sub committee is expected to brief the Economic Management Team on Tuesday next week.
On whether the federal government has come up with a proposal, the source said, “We are still looking at the proposal made by the different parties involved. The organised private sector proposed N25, 000 and the NLC committee is insisting on nothing less than N43,000.”
It was also gathered that the State governors were yet to make their input and the committee is expected to get the input before presenting its report to the Economic Management Team.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige had recently accused the organised labour of blackmailing the government following a two-week ultimatum given by the latter for the conclusion of negotiation on the matter.
According to him, the Labour leaders were unnecessarily blackmailing and intimidating government to pass a new minimum wage that it may end up reneging on.
Ngige blamed certain factors such as inability of governors to provide their figures to be debated by the committee negotiating the new minimum wage as one of the reasons for the delay, just as he assured that government was still within the timeframe it promised to deliver on a new minimum wage and was not stalling the process as alleged by labour.
According to Ngige, the organised private sector had initially proposed a figure of N42,000 but later brought it down to N25,000, taking into account the current economic situation, ability to pay and ability to enhance and create new jobs
The organised labour had in May 2016 demanded a pay rise on the current N18,000 national minimum wage to N56, 000 and later raised to N65,500. Buhari had in November 2017 inaugurated the National Minimum Wage Committee with a mandate of arriving at a new national minimum.
The federal government had assured workers during the 40th anniversary celebration of the NLC earlier in February that workers should expect a new national minimum wage by September.
But the organised labour had recently accused the federal government of not being sincere in coming up with new minimum wage and warned that labour should not be pushed to the wall.
The report of the new minimum wage was supposed to be ready by the end of August but the Committee could not round off with its negotiation as a result of the sallah holiday.