The Budget Office of the Federation has urged stakeholders in the review of workers’ minimum wage to consider the revenue generation profile of the country in taking decisions.
The Director-General of the office, Dr Bright Okogu, gave the advice in an interview with the News agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday.
He observed that the Federal Government raised workers’ wage bill from N857 billion in 2009 to N1.8 trillion in 2014.
He said that the increase followed incessant strikes by various labour unions across the country.
He said that “if you have that kind of situation in an environment where your revenue is not growing with the same margin, obviously there will be challenges.
“So, I would hope that everybody –stakeholders –will consider all the facts and look at the numbers before making decisions that will not be easy to implement.’’
According to him, the implication of such rise in the wage bill is that smaller amount of funds will be allocated to the capital budget for development.
The director-general said it was unfortunate that people had forgotten that in 1986, when the oil price collapsed, government could not pay salary for months.
He said that the stakeholders ought to organise a debate to see if Nigeria would prefer to spend all of its earnings on payment of salaries.
“Put together, the people in the Federal Civil Service today are not more than 1.2 million or 1.3 million out of about 170 million Nigerians.
“So less than one per cent of the population would be consuming probably 50 per cent of government revenue that is available,’’ he said.
Okogu, therefore, advised that issues bordering on salaries and wages should not be considered on individual basis.
He observed that in other countries, if there were calls for wage increase, governments would never raise workers’ earnings beyond three or five per cent.
“In some countries, wages are either reduced or increased by a certain percentage on yearly basis.
“When Greece got into trouble, it could not even talk about increasing wages by one per cent; so the discussion was by how much the government of the country would cut from workers’ wages.
“When it ran to the European Union for help, it was advised to reduce number of public sector workers by 40 per cent.
“Is that what Nigeria would like to do? Personally, I don’t think so because we need to have people working,’’ he said. (NAN)
Source : Leadership