- Minimum Wage: Buhari, Govs May Clash as FG Sets up Advisory Panel
Indications emerged in Abuja on Wednesday that President Muhammadu Buhari might clash with governors if he presented a bill to the National Assembly, proposing N30,000 as the national minimum wage without considering the states’ ability to pay.
Buhari had while inaugurating a Technical Advisory Committee on National Minimum Wage in Abuja on Wednesday said there would be negotiations with workers already earning above N30,000 to help the Federal Government and the states to implement a new wage increase smoothly.
A new proposal of N30,000 is now before the President, which will be forwarded to the National Assembly on January 23 as a bill.
But the governors said they had already told the President the financial crisis the proposed N30,000 minimum wage would bring to their states if approved.
A governor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told one of our correspondents that the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, as a body, had sent to the President financial analysis of how the increment would affect 30 states.
It was gathered that the governors had earlier submitted a report carried out on six states to measure the impact of the increase in minimum wage from N18,000 to either N22,500, N24,000 or N30,000 on states’ finances.
The governor listed states that were covered in the first report to include “Kebbi, Ondo, Edo, Ebonyi, Bauchi and Plateau.”
It was gathered that some states had agreed to pay more than N30,000 but the governors were said to have collectively said the minimum wage should be pegged at N22,500 in order to help some states that were not financially viable.
Such states, it was gathered, included Kogi, Osun and Benue.
It was gathered that Jigawa State even offered to pay as much as N44,000 if the minimum wage was left at N22,500.
The governor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added, “So, what we did was to help states that can’t pay N18,000 now to struggle and pay the N22,500 while those paying now should be able to manage the increment without much problems.
“Now, if the President goes ahead to send a bill that will contain N30,000 to the National Assembly without considering what we have told him, there will be crisis in the country. We will wait to see what will happen. I’m sure that the National Assembly will not pass the bill this year.
“I’m also sure that the President may still scale down the minimum wage to what we have agreed to pay or the N24,000 that the Federal Government suggested.
“We will expect the President to appeal to the sensibilities of workers on this matter. If you listened to the President in his interview two days ago, he said that it was better to get the N18,000 than not to get at all.
“In the interview, the President also said he was aware that there were states that owe salaries up to six months.”
We’ll negotiate with workers earning above N30,000 – Buhari
However, Buhari stated that for easy implementation, the government would have to negotiate the wage earned by those already taking salaries above the minimum wage home monthly.
Renowned financial and economic expert, Mr Bismarck Rewane, heads the technical committee, which among others, has the primary role of advising the government on how to implement a new minimum wage, particularly the consequential increases for other categories of workers.
However, for the minimum wage paid the least worker, the President disclosed that there was adequate provision for it in the 2019 budget.
Buhari added, “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.
“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.
“We must therefore look at ways of implementing these consequential wage adjustments in a manner that does not have adverse effects on our national development plans, as laid out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.”
Rewane panel won’t hinder new minimum wage bill timeline –TUC
Also, the National Chairman of the Trade Union Congress in Nigeria, Kaigama Bobboi, on Wednesday said the Rewane panel would not affect the report of the tripartite committee that deliberated on the issue and its implementation.
The TUC chairman said the 30 days the Rewane panel was given to submit its report would not affect the January 23 timeline for the transmission of the bill to the National Assembly or the N30,000 already agreed on as the new national minimum wage.
He also explained that the proposed negotiation by the FG with those who were already earning above N30,000 was procedural as it was done in 2011 when the present minimum wage was negotiated.
Bobboi said, “The Federal Government has captured the projection in the 2019 budget. What the committee is doing is to ensure the source of the fund… The FG has taken a step by including it in its budget… The state governments will need supplementary budget to accommodate it as the case may be. We do not control the NASS but we are in synergy with them and they have promised to expedite action on it. We will not be surprised if this is done within a month.”
Bring bill on Tuesday, Saraki tells Buhari
When contacted, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said the National Assembly could pass the wage bill within one week, before going on recess, only if the Presidency sent it to the legislature by Tuesday.
Saraki’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu, said, “The Federal Government should not wait until 23rd January before bringing it. They should bring it on the first day of resumption. If they do so, by the 17th or 18th, work will be concluded on it – within the week.
“We are also interested in it because we are labour-friendly and we want the demand of labour to be met very quickly.”
President alone can’t decide percentage of increment – ASCSN
Responding to the Federal Government’s declaration to negotiate with workers earning above N30,000 per month, the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria said Buhari would not be the only one to determine the percentage of increment in the proposed review of the minimum wage.
The Secretary-General, ASCSN, Alade Lawal, who spoke with one of our correspondents, said, “What the President is saying is that the minimum wage of N30,000 has been agreed. But consequential adjustment has to be negotiated and he is correct.
“We have submitted a memo and we are going to negotiate it and how it is going to affect other workers earning more than the minimum wage.
“That is the salary review aspect of it, and the President cannot just unilaterally decide it. We have to agree, we have to discuss it with the joint negotiating council because our memo is with them already.
“It has to be done sector by sector. We submitted the memo to the Federal Government in respect of the civil service. So, once this N30,000 minimum wage is agreed, they will invite us and negotiation will start.”
Rewane heads advisory panel on minimum wage
Buhari, however, said the technical committee would advise the government on how to implement the increases for other categories of workers already earning above the minimum wage “in a sustained manner.”
The Rewane committee has members knowledgeable in finance, economy and administration from both the public and private sectors.
The President said the terms of reference to the panel included, “To develop and advise government on how to successfully bring about a smooth implementation of impending wage increases.
“Identify new revenue sources, as well as areas of existing expenditure from where some savings could be made in order to fund the wage increases without adversely impacting negatively on the nation’s development goals as set out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
“Propose a work plan and modalities for the implementation of the salary increases.
“Any other suggestions that will assist in the implementation of this, and future wage increases.
“Given the urgency of this exercise, the committee is expected to complete its deliberations and submit its report and recommendations within one month today.”
Other members from the private sector are a former Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service , Mrs Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru; Sulieman Barry; Dr Ayo Teriba, and Prof. Akpan Ekpo.
There are also the Chairman FIRS, Dr Babatunde Fowler; Director General of Budget Office, Mr Ben Akabueze, who is the secretary of the committee; representative of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Chairman of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission; Richard Egbule and others representing the public sector.
ECOWAS@46: Commission Seeks Trade Partnership With OPS To Deepen Intra-African Trade
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in commemoration of its 46th anniversary has sought partnership with the Organised Private Sector (OPS) to deepen intra-African trade and lift millions out of poverty.
This was revealed yesterday by the president of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Brou, at a webinar organised in collaboration with the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) yesterday.
The theme of the webinar is “Optimising Sustainable Trade, Investment and Regional Economic Integration through Effective Partnership between ECOWAS Institutions and the Organised Private Sector”.
Jean-Claude, represented by Mr. Kolawole Sopola, Acting Director, Trade, ECOWAS, said the commission, in recognition of the private sector’s role, created a stronger framework to boost the sector’s capacity for enhanced trade.
He said that the commission had also adopted more than 100 regional standards with 70 others under development on some products.
Brou listed mango, cassava, textile and garments as well as information and communication technology among such products.
“The growing importance of informal trade compels the ECOWAS to create a framework expected to engender more availability and reliability of up to date information on informal trade.
“The framework also seeks to implement reform that is essential to eliminate obstacles to informal trade among others.
“It is important to improve investment, particularly, private investment, in all sectors and I stress that digitalization must be at the center of activities for economic recovery.
“Infrastructural deficit must be addressed as well as sustainable and cheaper energy for the competitiveness of products.”
“The commission is developing projects on roads, renewable energy and education, needed for private sector development; all these to lift millions in the sub-region out of poverty,” he said.
Dr. George Donkor, President of, ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) said that many western states showed numerous hurdles to overcome as countries continue to export raw materials, therefore maintaining low levels of development.
Donkor, however, said that reforms were already underway to accelerate the capacities of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) to spur private sector development for intra-African trade.
He noted that the EBID 2025 strategy was aimed at ensuring that the private sector benefitted up to 65 percent of the $1.6 billion available facilities.
“A vibrant private sector is key in driving regional integration and securing its active participation and has the potential to create a win-win situation for all participants.
“Increasing credit to the private sector will enhance capacity and the EBID is ready with strategies to ensure that the sector’s capacity is boosted,” he said.
Also, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, said that collaboration across societal sectors had emerged as one of the defining concepts of international development in the 21st century.
He stressed the need for ECOWAS member states to work together as a bloc to take advantage of the opportunities in the African Continental Free Trade Area.
“Since the establishment of ECOWAS in 1975, various protocols and supplementary protocols regulating member countries conduct have been signed.
“Our world has limited resources — whether financial, natural, or human — and as a society we must optimize their use.
“The fundamental of a good partnership is the ability to bring together diverse resources in ways that we can together achieve more impact, greater sustainability and increased value for all.
“This is so because it emphasises the need to work together as a bloc to leverage and take advantage of the opportunities offered by the African Continental Free Trade Area.
“My Ministry will do everything possible to ensure that the vision of the commission is taken to the next level,” he said.
IMF Retains 2.5 Percent Economic Growth Estimate For Nigeria
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has retained Nigeria’s 2.5 percent economic growth forecast for 2021.
The institution said this in its World Economic Outlook (WEO) for July titled “Fault Lines Widen in the Global Recovery” released on Tuesday in Washington DC.
According to it, the slow rollout of vaccines is the main factor weighing on the recovery for Low-Income Developing Countries (LIDCs) which Nigeria is part of.
It also retained its 6.0 percent growth forecast for the global economy for 2021 and 4.9 percent in 2022, adding that though the global forecast was unchanged from the April 2021 WEO, there were offsetting revisions.
The IMF had at its 2021 Virtual Spring Meetings in April, projected a 2.5 percent growth for Nigeria’s economy in 2021, up from 1.5 percent it projected in January.
It said that in LIDCs, the overall fiscal deficit in 2021 was revised up by 0.3 percentage points from the April 2021 WEO, mainly because of the re-emergence of fuel subsidies as well as the additional COVID-19 and security related support in Nigeria.
“Still, at 5.2 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the overall fiscal deficit remains well below that of advanced and emerging market economies, reflecting financing constraints, about 60 percent of LIDCs are assessed to be at high risk of or in debt distress.
“The public debt-to-GDP ratio for 2021 is projected at 48.5 percent.
“Several LIDCs have announced an intention to restructure their debts and some have sought debt relief under the G20 Common Framework (Chad, Ethiopia, and Zambia),” it said.
On the global scene, the IMF said that uncertainty surrounding the global baseline remain high, primarily related to the prospects of emerging market and developing economies.
It added that although growth could turn out to be stronger than projected, downside risks dominated in the near term.
“On the upside, better global cooperation on vaccines could help prevent renewed waves of infection and the emergence of new variants, end the health crisis sooner than assumed, and allow for faster normalisation of activity, particularly among emerging market and developing economies.
“Moreover, a sooner-than-anticipated end to the health crisis could lead to a faster-than-expected release of excess savings by households, higher confidence and more front-loaded investment spending by firms.”
On the downside, it said growth would be weaker than projected if logistical hurdles in procuring and distributing vaccines in emerging markets and developing economies led to an even slower pace of vaccination than assumed.
The report added that such delays would allow new variants to spread, with possibly higher risks of breakthrough infections among vaccinated populations.
“Emerging market and developing economies, in particular, could face a double hit from tighter external financial conditions and the worsening health crisis, further widening the fault lines in the global recovery.
“Weaker growth would, in turn, further adversely affect debt dynamics and compound fiscal risks.
“Finally, social unrest, geopolitical tensions, cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure, or weather-related natural disasters, which have increased in frequency and intensity due to climate change could further weigh on the recovery.”
On ensuring a fast-paced recovery, the IMF said the highest priority was to ensure rapid, worldwide access to vaccines and substantially hasten the timeline of rollout relative to the assumed baseline pace.
According to it, the global community needs to vastly step up efforts to vaccinate adequate numbers of people and ensure global herd immunity.
This, it said, would save lives, prevent new variants from emerging and add trillions to the global economic recovery.
FG to Put an End to N360 Billion Annual Electricity Subsidy Payments in 2022 – Osinbajo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday said the Federal Government will end an estimated N360 billion annual subsidy payments in the electricity sector in 2022. This represents a monthly subsidy payment of N30 billion.
Osinbajo disclosed this while speaking at the 14th Nigerian Association for Energy Economics/IAEE conference in Abuja on Monday.
At the conference titled “Strategic responses of energy sector to COVID-19 impacts on African economies“, the vice president, who was represented by Engr. Ahmad Zakari, the Special Assistant to the President on Infrastructure, said the federal government would be investing over $3 billion in the sector to strengthen distribution and transmission infrastructure across the nation.
He stated that the numerous efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari at ensuring the power sector plays a critical role in the growth of the nation’s social and economic well-being will materialise fully once the ongoing reform in the energy sector is complete.
He said: “Electricity tariff reforms with service-based tariff has led to collections from the electricity sector by 63 per cent, increasing revenue assurance for gas producers and stabilizing the value chain.
“It is anticipated that all electricity market revenues will be obtained from the market with limited subsidy from next year as reforms in metering and efficiency with the DISCOs continue to improve.
“Accelerated investment in transmission and distribution, over $3 billion will be out into this sub-segment of the electricity value chain that will put us on the path to delivering 10 gigawatts through the interventions of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Siemens partnership, World Bank and Africa Development Bank, and others.”
He said as the electricity sector continued to be stabilized, more power was needed for the country’s large population.
“That is why this administration continues to invest in generation to cater for our current and future needs,” he said.
Osinbajo charged the participants to come up with solutions to key energy challenges facing the country, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic and energy transition.
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