‘Govt must implement general wage review to boost purchasing power’
The Federal Government must put in place a template for a general wage review that will boost purchasing power of the working class, a former Director General of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Segun Oshinowo, has said.
Speaking on the floating of the naira and increment in petrol pump price, Oshinowo said while the process for a review of the national minimum wage ought to have begun, an impactful sector-wide review is urgently needed.
He admitted that ending the petrol subsidy and halting multiple exchange rates that distorted the economy badly are two policy reversals that were needed to prevent the Nigerian economy from total collapse .
However, he urged the government to strike a balance between the ideal and the reality.
“The government has done well by embarking on the recent reforms to bring sanity to the economy. It is the ideal thing to do. But we don’t live life in idealism as idealistic policies may come with some pains for the citizens. We can however transmit idealism to a desirable realism if our government gets its acts together by ensuring that it is holistic in its thought system by ensuring that policy ideals deliver to the people within a reasonable timeframe as close as possible a reality of good living and comfort.
Stressing the necessity to bridge the time lag between idealism and reality, Oshinowo observed that if the time lag is not well-managed, the idealism and necessity of its reform will no longer make meaning to the people.
He added: “Understandably so as nothing makes meaning to a person fighting for survival. It is in this regard of delay if not failure to roll out mitigating and pain assuaging social and economic policies that President Bola Tinubu has not balanced well the equation of his reforms.”
He also dismissed the planned conditional cash transfer of N8,000 per month for 12 million Nigerians for six months, saying it falls short of a social reform policy that will provide palliative to the masses.
He explained that the number of Nigerians living within the poverty cycle that requires assistance is in the millions and way above the targeted 12 million.
He also stressed the need for the government to expand the coverage of the national health insurance scheme to cover more vulnerable groups.
His words: “There is an urgent need for not only a review of the minimum wage, which has its statutory approach that ought to have commenced by now but also the government’s directive to various sectors of the economy for a general salary increase to boost purchasing power.
“The informal sector of the economy will surely benefit from the consequential effect of such action through improved consumer expenditure. Health is wealth and a lot can be done using a well-positioned and reformed National Health Insurance Scheme to make quality health accessible to the generality of Nigerians, particularly the most vulnerable.”
He added that while a food stamp or coupon for the poorest of the poor is apt at this time, the corrupt Nigerian system will render such a programme unworkable.
Oshinowo, who expressed his support for the palliative to alleviate the negative impacts of the economic reforms, the government should focus on policies that will boost the income level of the citizens, saying, “This is the short end of the stick and there should not be any further delay in actualising this.
Times are indeed very hard for most Nigerians and the government needs to be seen to be responding to their cries in meaningful and impactful ways rather than bellow the rhetoric of appeal to the people to bear the sufferings.”
The former NECA chief warned that this is not the time to appeal to the conscience of the people when they are hungry and angry saying what is urgently needed are practical policies that will ameliorate the sufferings of the people.
“As things are now, the atmosphere is getting charged and doused with the fuel of agonising suffering and it is simply a question of time before something provides the spark,” he said.
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