James Ojo and Fred Itua, Abuja
The Senate, yesterday, passed the new National Minimum Wage Bill.
Like the House of Representatives which gave it a nod almost eight weeks after, the upper chamber pegged salary for the lowest category of workers at N30,000.
It, however, ignored calls for a review of the revenue sharing formula, which many state governments had canvassed to give them more financial powers needed to implement the new package.
The passage of the new Bill followed the consideration of a report by Senate Deputy Whip and Chairman of the adhoc committee on New Minimum wage, Francis Alimikhena.
The Senate, while approving the report, rejected the proposal by President Muhammadu Buhari that a fine of N5,000 be imposed on any employer who fails to keep records of workers. Instead, it imposed a fine of N75,000 on such defaulters.
It asked the Ministry of Finance to immediately compute how much would be required to be added to the Federal Government’s 2019 budget as a result of the approval of the new minimum wage will.
Senate Minority whip, Biodun Olujimi, drew the attention of her colleagues to the fact that the review of revenue sharing formula is key to the implementation of the minimum wage pointing out that without it, many states won’t be able to pay.
The revenue sharing formula at the moment is 56 percent for the Federal Government; 24 percent for states and 20 percent for local governments.
Barnabas Gemade argued that with the kind of money deployed to buy votes during the last elections, state governments have enough money to pay workers.
James Manager, however, said it was embarrassing that some states had not paid the N18,000 minimum wage.
Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, expressed the view that “the administration has fulfilled its promises of wage increase and asked workers to reciprocate, as according to him, “to whom much is given much is expected.”
NLC lauds lawmakers
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has hailed the Bukola Saraki-led Senate for passing into law the new minimum wage bill.
In a telephone interview, the union’s Deputy President, Amechi Asugwuni, urged President Buhari to follow the part of honour and immediately sign into law the new pay rise document once he receives it.
While applauding the senate for the hike in the amount to be charged for defaulters, the NLC challenged state governments to brace up to accommodate the new salary increase once it is signed into law by the president
However, the deputy president was indifferent to calls by the senators for review of the revenue sharing formula in which the Federal Government gets 56 percent, states 24 and local government 20 percent.
He argued that the minimum wage bill was an independent bill which should not be subjected to adjustments in sharing formula by the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal commission (RMFAC).
Azuguwni argued that such calls could further slow down the implementation of the new minimum wage, which he saidd was long overdue.