Tinubu to consult further on new minimum wage


President Bola Ahmed Tinubu

By Salif Atojoko

President Bola Tinubu will consult further before arriving at a final decision on the new national minimum wage for Nigerian workers.

Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information and National Orientation, said this at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja on Tuesday.

He said the report of the tripartite committee on the new wage was presented and deliberated on at the FEC meeting, but was stepped down to enable the President consult further.

Idris said this would allow the President take an informed decision on it before sending its bill to the National Assembly for consideration.

“We discussed the new minimum wage issue at the council meeting.

“The new national minimum wage is not just that of the federal government, it is an issue that involves the federal government, the state governments, local governments, and organised private sector.

“And of course, the memo was stepped down to enable Mr President to consult further, especially with the state governors and organised private sector,” he said.

The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Mr Wale Edun, also briefed on government finances and debts, including ways and means.

“When we interrogate the figures over the first quarter of this year, starting from middle of December 2023 and the end of March this year; if we want to be positive, what we will say is that the glass is half full.

“We are halfway there. If not, we can be negative and try and say the glass is half empty. Why do I say this? The total debt stock of Nigerians in dollars terms fell by 15 per cent, that is very positive.

“Any rating agency, any creditor, any investor looking at that will see it as a positive move.

“We are a country that has petrodollar, we have ability to earn in dollars. So it’s highly relevant that we look at what is our exposure in dollars terms,” Edun said.

According to him, on the other hand, the exchange rates increased by 8 trillion in actual debt issuance, and the total external debt and domestic debt in Naira terms had increased by 25 per cent.

“That brings me to the foreign exchange movement which can change tomorrow, as we know. Linked to that is the all important question of the government’s capacity to pay its way.

“Debt is all about the revenue to service it, and of course to use those funds properly, judiciously, accountably and in a way that gives positive returns.

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“At no time have we gone to Mr President to seek permission to go the the Central Bank to pay anybody, be it external debt service, be it share capital cash calls for any of the liabilities that the government has,” he said.

Edun explained that as with all agencies, the government was focused on ensuring that the revenue due to it was collected robustly using technology, avoiding blockages associated with manual processing, which he said had led to a very robust revenue effort.

“Likewise, we are implementing debts or expenditure controls, also very ably empowered by technology.

“Mr President inherited a legacy of N3.4 trillion in outstanding ways and means which have been securitised on the eve of the entry of President Tinubu’s administration.

“We are doing a forensic audit, we are interrogating that figure because its a liability which we have to pray interest on. So, any deficit that you might see to the consolidated revenue account, may be automatic debit on a figure that is still being interrogated,” said Edun.

Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Pate, also said the Council gave approval for the upgrade of key infrastructure in the country’s healthcare system.

He said that the Council approved the engagement of a transaction adviser to develop a public private partnership (PPP) to expand, modernise and refurbish six teaching hospitals’ equipment.

The hospitals are: University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, University College Hospital Ibadan, National Hospital Abuja, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital and Usmanu Dafodiyo University Teaching Hospital, Sokoto.

“That is a massive upgrade of infrastructure. The transaction adviser will develop full business case and then come back to the Council for approval for mobilisation to execute the contract over the next 12 to 20 months.

“The second item is the expansion of the pathology lab and the mortuary at the University College Hospital, Ibadan. The contract was awarded, and it also includes building hostels for nurses and other health professionals. That is under a PPP arrangement,” said Pate.

He gave an update on diseases ravaging the country, particularly Cholera, which he said was discussed extensively, in addition to the emergence of yellow fever in Bayelsa.

He said the National Centre for Disease Control was working with Lagos State, which has a very strong institutional ability to be able to contain the disease.

The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Lateef Fagbemi, said the Federal Government has approved procurement of Mikano CNG vehicles for the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).

He said that council also approved the procurement of two full body scanners for Lagos and Abuja International airports.

Also, Minister of Works David Umahi gave an update on road projects across the country, assuring that by October, most of the ongoing road construction and rehabilitation would be completed. (NAN)

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