By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari Monday in Abuja received the report of the Presidential Technical Committee on Implementation of National Minimum Wage with a promise to give it an expeditious review.
Receiving the report in the State House, Buhari recalled that the committee chaired by Bismarck Rewane, an economist and business man, was set up on January 9, this year, with the mandate to advise the federal government “on how best to fund, in a sustained manner, the additional costs of implementing the increase in the national minimum wage.”
Although the president had upon its inauguration, given the committee one month to conclude its assignment and submit its report, the report was coming almost two months behind schedule today.
However, the president also recalled that the committee was charged with the responsibility of advising the government on what he described as “the consequential increases in salaries and allowances for other employees, without worsening our already difficult fiscal condition, and without adversely impacting the nation’s development goals as set out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).”
Disclosing that the committee was also given the mandate to propose a work plan and modalities for implementing the imminent salary increase, Buhari said he was very pleased that the committee did its job with every sense of commitment, thanking individuals and groups who were instrumental to the delivery of the report.
While inaugurating the committee in January, the president did not mince words to disclose that the new minimum wage would not be automatic for every federal government worker, pointing out that instead, salaries of some civil servants who are already earning above the national minimum wage would be reviewed downward.
Those expected to be affected by such review, which labour immediately threatened to resist at the time, are the staff of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), among others, who earn humongous salaries.
Buhari had said: “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.”
According to him, it was against that background that it became imperative to constitute a technical committee to advise the government about the funding of an additional wage bill ahead of its implementation.
Buhari also said even though the minimum wage was on exclusive legislative list, state governors were being carried along because of the current prevalent economic challenges.
He said since the provisions for the payment of the new minimum wage had already been made in the 2019 budget, funding the increase would not be difficult.
Buhari further told the committee: “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 governments to pay workers as and when due.
“As you know we, at the federal level, have made adequate provision for the increase in the minimum wage in our 2019 budget proposals which we submitted to the National Assembly. Therefore, we will be able to meet the additional costs that will be incurred in moving up all personnel who are currently earning below the new minimum wage.”
Although the National Minimum Wage Bill had been passed by both chambers of the National Assembly, the bill is yet to be transmitted to the president.