President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Bismark Rewane, a prominent economist, as the Chairman of the Minimum Wage Technical Advisory Committee.
This was made known at the inauguration of the committee at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, just before the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday.
At a short ceremony, President Buhari said the committee will, among other things, recommend “modalities for the implementation of the new minimum wage in such a manner as to minimise its inflationary impact, as well as ensure that its introduction does not lead to job losses’’
He also reiterated his commitment to ensuring an upward review of the minimum wage.
The president, however, said the Federal Government had to consult with state governments about the minimum wage with a view to find common ground, even though the matter is under the exclusive prerogative of Abuja.
“I want to make it clear that there is no question about whether the National Minimum Wage will be reviewed upwards. I am committed to a review of the Minimum Wage.
“Also, 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 governors to pay workers as and when due,’’ he said.
President Buhari noted that the committee’s task is on the basis of the National Finance Bill, which will be submitted alongside the National Minimum Wage Bill to the National Assembly.
He also stated government’s readiness to cope with the financial burden of a salary review for workers earning above the new minimum wage, stating that it would not affect the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the administration.
He said: “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 (ERGP).
”The ERGP sets appropriate targets for levels of capital expenditure, public debt, inflation, employment, etc.”
The committee is expected to submit its report within one month.
However, the timeframe of the advisory committee’s work contrasts with the pledge made on Wednesday by Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Productivity, that the new minimum wage bill would be transmitted to the National Assembly on January 23.
The organised labour comprising the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) carried out a nationwide protest on Tuesday over the perceived slow process of the government’s implementation of the new minimum wage.
The tripartite committee, headed by Amal Pepple, a former head of the Civil Service of the federation, had recommended N30,000 from the current N18,000 as the new minimum wage for workers