President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday promised to implement a new National Minimum Wage.
He spoke while receiving the report of the Tripartite Committee on the Review of National Minimum Wage from committee chairman Amal Pepple at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Pepple said: “After carefully weighing these critical factors and bearing in the mind the overriding interest of the economy, the committee, while noting the offer of N24,000 by the Federal Government, is recommending an increase in the existing minimum wage from N18,000 to N30,000.
“We believe that the implementation of the recommended minimum wage will, no doubt, boost the purchasing power of workers, increase consumption expenditure and ultimately stimulate business and overall economic growth.”
The committee has also produced a Draft National Minimum Wage Bill 2018 for consideration by the government.
“We strongly believe that the enactment of the draft bill into law is very critical to the operation and future reviews of the National Minimum Wage,’’ Pepple said.
She added: “Consideration was given to the critical role of the informal sector in employment generation and the need for a realistic minimum wage that will not stifle the growth of the sector and the overall economy.”
The committee’s recommendation was predicated on the high cost of living, occasioned by the exchange rate as well as the rising inflation rate.
The committee considered also micro-economic indicators, including the government’s revenue and expenditure profile.
Pepple believes that the implementation of the recommended minimum wage will boost the purchasing power of the working class, increase consumption expenditure, and stimulate economic growth.
At the meeting were Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha, Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige, Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed and others.
The President was delighted that the committee completed its assignment in a peaceful and non-controversial manner.
He said the Federal Government would soon transmit the Executive bill (on National Minimum Wage) to the National Assembly for its passage within the shortest possible time.
“Our plan is to transmit the Executive bill to the National Assembly for its passage within the shortest possible time.
“I am fully committed to having a new National Minimum Wage Act in the very near future.
”The fact that we are here today is a notable achievement.
“As the Executive Arm commences its review of your submission, we will continue to engage you all in closing any open areas presented in this report.
“I, therefore, would like to ask for your patience and understanding in the coming weeks,” he said.
”May I, therefore, implore workers and their leaders not to allow themselves to be used as political weapons,’’ Buhari said.
He explained that the review became necessary for many reasons, adding that the last review took place in 2011.
“We all know since then the prices of key consumables have increased and the most vulnerable of our workers are struggling to make ends meet.
“Since 2011, many changes have taken place. Nigeria rebased its GDP to become the largest economy in Africa. We reported very strong GDP growth rates and exceptional performance of our capital markets.
“However, these reported successes did not flow into the pockets and homes of majority of Nigerians.
“In the last three years, we focused on correcting this deficiency. We are working to create a diversified and inclusive economy,’’ he said.
Buhari spoke of how his administration had been pushing to clear pension arrears owed retired workers with the limited resources available to it, just as it had been supporting state governments to pay workers’ salary.
He praised the members of the committee for their commitment and sacrifice.
“From the outset, we knew the committee had a difficult task ahead of it. But at the same time, we were also confident that the patriotic and professional background of its members would produce realistic, fair and implementable recommendations that will be considered by both the executive and legislative arms of government.
“I am not surprised that the committee has worked for close to one year. I am also not surprised that on a few occasions, the debates got heated and, sometimes, these differences came out.
“What is truly inspiring is that, in almost all instances of disagreements, the committee members always came back to the negotiating table with a common goal of improving the welfare of Nigerian workers.
“On behalf of all Nigerians today, I want to thank you for your commitment and sacrifice in getting us to where we are today,’’ he said.
The President acknowledged that the concerns raised by representatives of government in the committee was affordability while many states were struggling to meet their existing salary requirements.
“On the side of labour, the points raised focused on the need for any increase to be meaningful.
“In a way, both arguments are valid. I want to assure you all that we will immediately put in place the necessary machinery that will close out these open areas,’’ he said.