By Cecilia Ijuo
A ministerial nominee, Prof. Stephen Ocheni, has called on the Federal Government and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to quickly resume talks on a new minimum wage for workers.
Ocheni made the call on Wednesday in Abuja while responding to issues raised by senators when he appeared at the Senate for screening and confirmation.
He said that the call by the workers for a new wage was not out of place, but added that it was important for them and government to negotiate on a tenable wage.
This, according to him, is in view of the current economic situation in the country.
“They should go to the roundtable and discuss the possibility of implementing the minimum wage. This discussion will be anchored on the budget of the federation.
“If your children are demanding for N100 and you have N10 in your pocket, not until you declare your asset, they will not believe what you are saying.
“By the time Labour and Federal Government go to a roundtable, the government will be able to explain the implication of what Labour is asking for, considering the huge workforce across the country.
“The Federal Government can also make a case on the need to reduce allocation to recurrent expenditure as personnel cost is a major component of recurrent expenditure,’’ he said.
On poverty in the country, the nominee said that one of the major ways to eliminate it was to strengthen the private sector through creation of enabling environment.
He said that the current effort of Federal Government to increase capital budget would help to develop infrastructure, thereby creating enabling environment required for private sector to thrive.
According to him, it is not feasible for the Federal Government alone to cater for the increasing number of graduates being churned out on a yearly basis.
“The economic growth plan emphasises the need to reduce recurrent expenditure and increase allocation to capital budget.
“This will lead to improvement in the overall development of the economy and reduce poverty. Let us also not forget that from the execution of capital budget, employment will be generated thereby reducing poverty.
“This is because the public sector cannot continue to absorb graduates as was done in the past,’’ he said.