From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The House of Representatives yesterday, stepped down debate on the 2019 Appropriation Bill, owing to discrepancies discovered in the budgetary allocation to some of ministries.
The Speaker, Yakubu Dogara had on Wednesday plenary directed officials of the Ministry of Finance , the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, as well as the Budget Office to meet immediately to reconcile the discrepancies in the budget, after lawmakers pointed discrepancies in the Appropriation Bill.
Speaking at yesterday’s plenary, Dogara said the continuation of debate on the general principles of the Appropriation Bill, will be shelved until the officials of the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Budget and National Planning and the Budget Office, are able to reconcile the figures. Dogara expressed optimism that the reconciliation of the figures would be concluded on time, so that further legislative work can continue on the Appropriation Bill on Tuesday next week, when the House would continue debate on the Appropriation Bill.
This is coming as lawmakers, yesterday, kicked against the N27,000 minimum wage proposed by the National Council on State for civil servants in the country, stating that the sum is inadequate.
The lawmakers spoke during debate on the Minimum wage Act, 2004. Amendment Bill, which was transmitted to the National Assembly on Wednesday by President Muhammadu Buhari.
In his contribution, the Deputy Chief Whip, Hon Pally Iriase noted that past amendment to the National Minimum wage Act had always been observed in the breach.
Iriase said that since the House is not a rubber stamp assembly, there is need to give Nigerian workers N30,000 as minimum wage, especially against the backdrop of high cost of living in the country.
According to him,”people who depend on salaries are always at the mercy of inflation. We must work on this bill and give Nigerians N30,000 as minimum wage. Even the President would not deny that the tripartite agreement was N30,000, but everyone is being arm twisted as they were complaining that states can not pay. We need to stand up as one, and pass N30,000.”
Similarly, Hon Adamu Chika, said the “N27,000 is grossly inadequate. The fact that it cannot be reviewed until the next five years is not acceptable. It should be reviewed maybe after one or two years. I heard the President saying it will only affect those earning below N30,000 is not acceptable. The senior workers also go to the same market. This will cause problem in no distant future. At the Committee level, we must see the table they are using.
After the bill scaled through second reading, the Speaker announced that because of the ongoing electioneering campaigns, the bill was not be referred to a standing committee.
Consequently, he referred it to an Ad-hoc Committee headed by the Deputy Speaker, Hon Yussuff Lasun and announced that there would be public hearing on the minimum wage bill on Monday next week..
Dogara urged the Ministry of Labour and Employment and other relevant stakeholders to make representations to the Ad-hoc Committee on Monday.