• Appoints Rewane chair, as FEC approves 4 new varsities
By Lawrence Olaoye
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that his administration was committed to the review of the national minimum wage in the country.
The President, who inaugurated the technical committee on the implementation of the minimum wage yesterday, also named an economic and financial expert, Bismark Rewane, the head of the panel.
This is just as the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the establishment of four new private Universities in Kaduna, Oyo, Ogun and Osun states.
The President, in his speech, pointed out that even though the review of minimum wage is in the Exclusive List in the constitution, there was a need to carry the state governors along in arriving at a consensus.
He acknowledged that the minimum wage adjustment was well overdue, noting that the last increment was done in 2011.
According to him, it was his determination to address the issue of the increase in the minimum wage that made him to set up a Tripartite Committee of Government, Organized Private Sector and Labour which had since submitted its report.
He said, “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 governments to pay workers as and when due.
“As you know, we, at the Federal level, have made adequate provision for the increase in the Minimum Wage in our 2019 Budget proposals which we submitted to the National Assembly. Therefore, we will be able to meet the additional costs that will be incurred in moving up all personnel who are currently earning below the new minimum wage.
“However, we anticipate that after the new minimum wage bill has been passed into law we will be going into negotiations for salary review for all the workers who are already earning above the new minimum wage. It is, therefore, important that we are properly prepared to meet these demands.
“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. It is absolutely important that the implementation of a new minimum wage does not adversely affect these targets, and, thereby, erode the envisaged gains for the workers.
“It is against this background that I have set up a Technical Committee to advise Government on how best to fund, in a sustained manner, the additional costs that will arise from the implementation of the consequential increases in salaries and allowances for workers currently earning above the new minimum wage.
“The Technical Committee being inaugurated today will be chaired by an Economist and Financial Expert, Mr. Bismarck Rewane. Other members of the Committee are experienced economists and administrators from the private sector working together with all the relevant officials in the Government.”
The president spelt out the terms of reference to the committee to include:
“To develop, and advise government on how to successfully bring about a smooth implementation of impending wage increases; Identify new revenue sources, as well as areas of existing expenditure from where some savings could be made in order to fund the wage increases without adversely impacting the nation’s development goals as set out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan; Propose a work plan and modalities for the implementation of the salary increases;
and other suggestions that will assist in the implementation of this, and future wage increases.”
The committee was given one month to complete its task and submit its reports.
Briefing newsmen after the weekly Council meeting chaired by President Buhari yesterday, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu confirmed the approval of four new private universities by the FEC.
According to him, the new Universities are Greenfield University, Kaduna, Kaduna State, Dominion University, Ibadan, Oyo State, Trinity University, Laloko, Ogun State and Westland University in Iwo, Osun State.
“All the four have satisfied the criteria for the establishment of the universities. They have submitted their academic briefs, their master plans and evidence of facilities, after visitation by the National Universities Commission (NUC).
“They have satisfied all those requirements; and they are being granted licenses,’’ he added.