- Minimum Wage: Workers Lobby Senators to Approve N30,000
Workers at the National Assembly, under the auspices of the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria, are lobbying members of the Senate especially those handling the New Minimum Wage Bill to approve N30,000 as passed by the House of Representatives.
Chairman of PASAN, National Assembly chapter, Mr Bature Muhammad, made this known in a chat with one of our correspondents on Monday, ahead of the senators’ resumption next week.
Media had reported last week Sunday that the resolution of the dispute over the national minimum wage was far from being over, following the decision by the House to pass N30,000 as the new wage.
The lower chamber of the National Assembly had on Wednesday passed the N30,000, an amount higher by N3,000 than the N27,000 which President Muhammadu Buhari presented to the National Assembly earlier in the executive bill.
However, the N30,000 tallied with the recommendation by the tripartite committee set up by the President on the minimum wage, which submitted its report in November, 2018.
But following a meeting of the National Council of State last month, the President eventually presented a minimum wage bill of N27,000 to the National Assembly.
The PASAN chairman informed our correspondent that the workers had been engaging with senators to see that they concur with the representatives on N30,000.
He said, “We have already started going underground to lobby the various committees and senators on that issue. Because of the election, not all of them are around but the few of them that are around, we have been able to talk to them; and those we are close to, we have called them on the phone. And they assured (us) that they don’t have a problem with that (N30,000).”
Muhammad recalled that the Council of State approved N30,000 for Federal Government workers and N27,000 for state workers, but the President went on to seek legislative approval for a N27,000 flat wage.
“When it gets to the harmonisation stage, they will agree to that N30,000. The tripartite committee agreed on N30,000 but because it was tabled before the Council of State; and reliably, what was said after the meeting that the Council of State approved N30,000 for Federal Government workers and N27,000 for state workers. But when they transmitted the bill to the National Assembly, they said it was N27,000. That was what brought the labour to start raising sentiments. But I believe they will all agree on N30,000.”
After the House passed the bill, the Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara, had noted that should the Senate refused to approve N30,000, a conference committee would be set up to harmonise the different resolutions by the chambers and make its recommendation.
Senate panel members divided over minimum wage
Meanwhile, members of the Senate ad-hoc Committee saddled with the responsibility of working on the minimum wage (amendments) bill have expressed divergent views on the actual amount the panel would recommend as the least amount that the Nigerian workers could earn per month.
Investigations by one of our correspondents revealed that some of the panel members are pushing for concurrence with the N30, 000 minimum wage approved and passed by the House of Representatives last week.
Other members of the panel told our correspondent on condition of anonymity that they were comfortable with the N27, 000 minimum wage proposed by the President while a member vowed to push for a higher wage.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, had penultimate week ago, announced the Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Olusola Adeyeye, as the chairman of the eight-member panel and they were asked to make their report available within two weeks.
Other members of the panel are Senator Abu Ibrahim, who will represent the Senate Committee on Labour; Senator Shehu Sani, representing the North-West and Senator Sam Egwu, representing the South-East.
The rest are Senators Suleiman Adokwe (North-Central), Francis Alimikhena (South-South), Solomon Adeola (South-West), and Binta Garba.
A member of the panel said, “Where is the money to pay N30, 000? Many state governments are finding it difficult to pay the current N18, 000 not to talk of N27, 000 that the President has proposed.
“I am of the view that we should retain the N27, 000 proposal as it is to avoid sacking of workers both at the private and public establishments.”
But a member told our correspondent on condition of anonymity that it would be risky for the panel to recommend a lesser amount because of the consideration that state governors would not be able to pay.
He said, “I don’t think that state governors cannot pay N30, 000 as minimum wage. They should prioritise their expenditure and reduce waste. The naira has been devalued and it had affected its purchasing powers.”
Another member, who subscribed to a lesser wage than N30, 000 said, “When the minimum wage was catapulted from N11, 000 to N18, 000, about 27 states in Nigeria could not pay salaries for many months.
“When President Muhammadu Buhari took over power, part of the problems he faced was how to rescue the states from collapse because they could no longer pay salaries.
“The only way the government could pay N30, 000 as minimum wage is to further devalue the naira. It would print more naira and pump into the system but what would the workers be able to buy with that?
“We should treat this issue with maturity in the Senate so that we don’t create problems for the incoming government.”
The panel chairman, in an interview with our correspondent last week, refused to confirm whether his panel would also jack up the minimum wage to N30, 000 like their counterparts in the House of Representatives.
The chairman said he would be unfair to his other colleagues if he declared that the panel would also recommend a higher wage than the N27, 000 presented to the National Assembly by President Buhari.
Manufacturing Firms Borrowed N570bn from Banks in 2020 – CBN
Manufacturing firms borrowed a total of N570bn from Nigerian banks last year amid the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Banks’ credit to the manufacturing sector rose to N3.19tn as of December 2020 from N2.62tn at the end of 2019, according to the sectoral analysis of banks’ credit by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The sector received the second biggest share of the credit from the banks after the oil and gas sector, which got N5.18tn as of December.
“The manufacturing sector, which is the engine of sustainable growth, is still struggling with the debilitating impact of the pandemic and is yet to recuperate,” the Director-General, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Mr Segun Ajayi-Kadir, said in January.
MAN, in a January report, revealed that most manufacturers said commercial banks’ lending rates were discouraging productivity in the sector.
The report said 71 per cent of Chief Executive Officers interviewed “disagreed that the rate at which commercial banks lend to manufacturers encourages productivity in the sector.”
It said the cost of borrowing in the country remained at double digits even amidst the reforms meant to culminate in lower rates to engender the country’s economic recovery process.
The report said, “Special single digit loans offered by development banks are still hard to leverage as conditionalities to assess the loans through commercial banks are often overwhelming and laden with additional charges that will eventually make the interest rate double digit.
“Seven per cent of respondents were, however, of the opinion that the rate at which commercial banks lend to manufacturers encourages productivity in the sector while the remaining 22 per cent were not sure of the impact of the rate of lending on productivity in the manufacturing sector.”
The report showed that 64 per cent of respondent disagreed that the size of commercial bank loan to manufacturing sector had encouraged manufacturing productivity.
It said the very high presence of the government in the money market, particularly through the sale of treasury bills, had been crowding out the private sector from the market.
Nigeria Earns Extra N318.4 Billion as Crude Oil Hits $67/Barrel
FG Generates Additional Income of N318.4 Billion as Crude Oil Hits $67/Barrel
The Federal Government earned an additional N318.36 billion in February following the surge in crude oil price above $60 per barrel.
Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, average $60 throughout the month of February.
In March, it rose to $67 per barrel.
According to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, Nigeria’s crude oil price was retained at $40 per barrel for 2021.
However, she said the nation is presently producing below its 2.5 million barrel per day capacity at 1.7mbpd. This, she said includes 300,000bpd condensates.
“Although Nigeria’s total production capacity is 2.5mbpd, current crude production is about 1.7mbpd, including about 300,000bpd of condensates, which indicates compliance with OPEC quota,” the finance minister stated.
Going by the number, Nigeria is producing 1.4mbpd of crude oil without condensates, but with an additional $20 revenue when compared to the $40 per barrel benchmark for the year. It means the Federal Government realised an additional income of N318.360 billion or $20 X 1.4mbpd X 30days in the month of February.
Crude oil jumped to $68.54 per barrel on Friday following OPEC+’s decision to role-over production cuts.
Nigeria, Morocco sign MOUs on Hydrocarbons, Others
The Federal Government and the Kingdom of Morocco have signed five strategic Memoranda of Understanding that will foster Nigerian-Morocco bilateral collaboration and promote the development of hydrocarbons, agriculture, and commerce in both countries.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, led the Nigerian delegation to the agreement signing ceremony on Tuesday at Marrakech, Morocco, while the Chief Executive Officer of OCP Africa, Mr Anouar Jamali, signed for the Kingdom of Morocco, according to a statement by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board.
Under the agreement between OCP, NSIA and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Nigeria will import phosphate from the Kingdom of Morocco and use it to produce blended fertiliser for the local market and export.
The statement said Nigeria would also produce ammonia and export to Morocco.
“As part of the project, the Nigerian Government plans to establish an ammonia plant at Akwa Ibom State,” it said.
The Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Mr Simbi Wabote, and the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, were part of the delegation and they confirmed that their organisations would take equity in the ammonia plant when the Final Investment Decision would be taken, the statement said.
Sylva said the project would broaden economic opportunities for the two nations and improve the wellbeing of the people.
He added that the project would also positively impact agriculture, stimulate the growth of gas-based industries and lead to massive job creation.
He said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had mandated the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and it agencies and other government agencies to give maximum support for the project.
“He mandated me to ensure that at least the first phase of this project is commissioned before the expiration of his second term in office in 2023,” he added.
According to the statement, the MOUs were for the support of the second phase of the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative; Shareholders Agreement for the creation of the joint venture company to develop the multipurpose industrial platform and MOU for equity investment by the NNPC in the joint venture and support of the gas.
Other agreements are term sheet for gas sales and aggregation agreement and MOU for land acquisition and administrative facilitation to the establishment of the multipurpose industrial platform for gas sales and aggregation agreement.
The NCDMB boss described the bilateral agreement as significant to the Nigerian economy as it would accelerate Nigeria’s gas monetisation programme through establishment of the ammonia plant in the country.
The agreement would also improve Nigeria’s per capita fertiliser application through importation of phosphate derivatives from Morocco, he added.
Wabote challenged the relevant parties to focus on accelerating the FID, assuring them that the NCDMB would take equity investment for long-term sustainability of the project.
He canvassed for the setting up of a project management oversight structure to ensure project requirements and timelines are met.
“There is also need to determine manpower needs for construction and operations phase of the project and develop training programmes that will create the workforce pool from Nigeria and Morocco and design collaboration framework between research centres in Nigeria and Morocco to develop technology solutions for maintaining the ISBL and OSBL units of the Ammonia complex,” he said.
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