..says AGF looking at the bill
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – THE Federal Government has said that the Technical Committee announced by President Muhammadu Buhari to be set up on the new Minimum Wage was not to review the report of the Minimum Wage Tripartite Committee.
Besides, the government team on the new minimum wage has invited leadership of the organized labour for a meeting on Friday January 4, 2019, to brief the workforce on the steps government was taking to ensure the implementation of a new wage.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige told Vanguard on telephone that the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami was looking through the minimum wage bill submitted by the Tripartite Committee.
According to him, “There is no bad situation, we are meeting them (labour) on the 4th, and we have sent them a letter inviting them. I will meet them with the Budget and Planning Minister on the 4th so that they will know what government is doing.
“We will brief them properly. The labour technical committee is not for them it is not for their consumption, it is for the executive. It is an executive committee, a committee to advise the executive, we are not reviewing the minimum wage report.
“Government will look at the bill and the Attorney General office is looking at that bill and we will bring out an executive bill from it for consideration by the National Economic Council, Federal Executive Council, National Council of States before transmission to the National Assembly, that is the sequence and we will do these things in January because the National Assembly is on recess.”
On why the Minimum Wage bill was not submitted to the National Assembly before they went on recess, the minister explained, “It is going to a be part of the budget, that is why the President talked about it in the budget, the entire quantum of money that would be used is captured in the 2019 budget.
“That was why the President talked about it while presenting the 2019 budget. Besides, the Office of the Accountant General is still working on their own bill, they have not finished.”
He further disclosed that people expected to attend the meeting from the government side include the Minister of Budget and National Planning as well as the Minister of Finance.
He said, “The government side is me (Ngige), the Budget and Finance Ministers. Labour has been invited. We sent their invitation about three days ago.”
However, national President of the United Labour Congress, ULC, one of the three labour centers in the country, Comrade Joe Ajaero, told Vanguard that any meeting by government now was just to buy time, stressing that what was needed presently was for President Muhammadu Buhari to forward an executive bill on the N30,000 new minimum wage as recommended by the Pripartite Committee to the National Assembly.
Comrade Ajaero said, “If you read Mr. President Budget speech, he was talking about setting up a Technical committee. The very moment Minimum Wage Committee presents its report, it doesn’t meet again; it is an ad-hoc committee and not a standing committee.
“Then it is now left for Mr. President to transmit Minimum Wage bill to the National Assembly that is what we are waiting for. We gave them up till December 31, 2018 which we are not aware that the National Assembly has received the bill. So if government is fixing meeting I think it is just trying to buy time, try to engage itself.”
At press time, it was not confirmed whether the organized labour was in receipt of letter from the government and whether it would honour the scheduled meeting on January 4.