By Ismaila Chafe/Abuja
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said that the extraordinary meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on National Minimum Wage had been postponed until after the National Economic Council’s (NEC) deliberation on the matter.
The minister stated this when he briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the extraordinary meeting of FEC, which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday.
According to him, the Federal Government is awaiting the final position of the NEC on the new national minimum wage, saying Council’s meeting on the matter is work in progress.
NEC is the nation’s highest economic-decision-making body, chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, with the 36 state governors, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma and FCT Minister, Mohammed Bello, as members.
But, the minister said: “I cannot talk on the outcome of the meeting over minimum wage because it’s work in progress.
“It would also be discussed by the National Economic Council (NEC) before we can brief the media”.
President Buhari had on Jan. 9 inaugurated a Technical Advisory Committee on the implementation of the new National Minimum Wage and reiterated his commitment to its payment.
He restated his commitment to an upward review of the minimum wage “as it is time to do so’’.
He said the committee would 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’’.
According to the president, the committee, which will be chaired by an economist and financial expert, Mr Bismarck Rewane, is expected to complete its deliberations and submit its report and recommendations within one month.
The organised labour had insisted on a N30,000 minimum wage as proposed by the Ama Pepple tripartite committee, while the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) proposed N24,000.
President Buhari, however, stated that the Federal Government had engaged State Governments, to ensure they are carried along in determining any upward review of the minimum wage for workers.
“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 has made it extremely difficult for some of the governors to pay workers as and when due,” he said while inaugurating the advisory committee.
He said the Federal Government on its part had made adequate provision for the increase in the Minimum Wage in its 2019 Budget proposal, which was submitted to the National Assembly on Dec. 19, 2018.