Economic Team Meets Tuesday to Determine New Minimum Wage

Yemi Osinbajo
  • Osinbajo set to preside special session
  • Inflation rate rises for first time in 18 months

By Chika Amanze-Nwachuku in Lagos, Omololu Ogunmade and James Emejo in Abuja

The Economic Management Team chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will meet in Abuja on Tuesday to take a stand on what the new national minimum wage should be.

Minister of Labour, Employment and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, disclosed this yesterday, after briefing President Muhammadu Buhari, alongside the chairman of the National Minimum Wage Committee (NMWC),   Ms. Amma Pepple on the progress made so far by the committee.

Also, a report released yesterday by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that the rate of consumer price index (CPI), which measures inflation increased to 11.23 per cent in August from 11.14 per cent in July, the first year -on -year rise after 18 consecutive decline in the inflation rate.

Ngige, who briefed journalists on steps taken so far by the government to resolve the lingering issue, described as untrue insinuation that the government is insensitive to the plights of labour, insisting that the current administration is “a labour friendly government”.

He said: “Next week, we will have an economic management team meeting on Tuesday, specially dedicated to the issue of national minimum wage to be chaired by the Vice President.

“For anybody to say that this government is stalling or playing games will be uncharitable, because, we have done what we are supposed to do. We have the interest of workers at heart.

“We have not retrenched anybody. There is no embargo on employment. There is no embargo on promotions. We are paying backlog of promotional arrears.

“So this government is a labour friendly government and we must put smiles on their faces before the next election…We are labour activists. We don’t want to turn our backs on them.”

Pepple, on her part, said the final report of the negotiating committee, would be sent to President Buhari before the end of September.

She said: “Everything is on course but we need a definite figure from government and of course, we have to carry the states along.

“So, we need those figures so that we can conclude on the figures we include in our report.

“This month, at least, I expect our report will be ready this month. We are submitting our report to Mr. President this month.”

The organised labour recently issued a two-week ultimatum to the federal government to conclude negotiations and come up with the final decision on the minimum wage.

But Ngige in a swift reaction to the ultimatum had accused the organised labour of blackmailing and unnecessarily pressuring the government to pass a new minimum wage that it may be unable to implement.

He blamed the delay in concluding the matter on the failure of states to submit their own figures to the committee.

However, the minister promised that government was still working within the timeframe it set for itself.

According to him, whereas the private sector had earlier proposed N42,000 minimum wage, it later reviewed it down to N25,000 in view of the current economic situations.

This proposal is however, a far cry from the N56,000 demanded by the organised labour in May 2016. The current national minimum wage is N18, 000.

Meanwhile, data released yesterday by the NBS showed that the rate of CPI, which measures inflation rose to 11.23 per cent in August, up from 11.14 per cent recorded in July.

The slight jump, driven by food prices, was the first year -on -year rise after 18 consecutive decline in the inflation rate.

“This is 0.09 per cent points higher than the rate recorded in July 2018 (11.14 per cent) and represents the first year- on- year rise in headline inflation following the 18 consecutive disinflation.

The Bureau added: “Increases were recorded in all divisions that yielded the headline index.

“On a month-on month  basis, the headline index  increased by 1.05 per cent in  August 2018, down by 0.08 per cent points from the rate recorded in July 2018 (1.13 per cent).”

The data revealed a rise in composite food index to 13.16 per cent in August 2018 over the 12.85 per cent in July 2018.

The rise in the food index, according to the Bureau, was caused by increases in prices of cereals, Potatoes, yam, Bread and Meat, Vegetables, Fish, Fruits and Oils and Fat.

It said that food sub-index increased to 1.42 percent on month-on-month basis in August 2018, up by 0.02 percent points from 1.40 percent recorded in July.