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Minister decries low funding for labour activities


THE Supervising Minister of Labour, Kabiru Turaki has urged the National Assembly to ensure adequate funding of the ministry’s activities in view of its strategic role in the stability of the economy.

He stated that the Ministry of Labour and Productivity has made tremendous contributions to national development and requires special attention in terms of adequate funding for effective and efficient service delivery of its statutory mandate.

The Minister stated this through the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Clement Illoh, in Abuja during separate presentations of the Ministry’s 2015 budget defense and 2014 performance report before the House of Representatives and Senate Committees on Labour, Employment and Productivity.

He appealed to the Committee that having been acquainted with the mandates, potentials, challenges and constraints of the Ministry and its Parastatals, it should consider making appropriate budgetary provision towards the attainment of the statutory responsibilities of the Ministry.

The Supervising Minister, who emphasized that the Nigeria labour force was one of the greatest assets of nation, noted that the Labour Ministry “was on track in the achievement of its entire target at the end of December 2014”.

He added: “We have achieved this through tactful planning and utilization of the resources allotted to ministry in the 2014 fiscal year”.

Turaki listed the statutory functions of the Ministry to include: provision of industrial peace and harmony; job creation and employment generation; capacity building/skills development for the nation’s labour force; provision of social security for vulnerable Nigerians; labour safety, health, welfare and education; enhancing national productivity and labour standards and national competitiveness; as well as provision of labour policies, regulations, ratification of international labour conventions and administrative services in the field of labour administration.
He stressed that the achievements of the ministry include resolution of 296 through the machineries of mediation and conciliation out 349 cases of trade disputes reported from the private and public sectors between January and December last year.

Turaki highlighted that out of the 30 cases referred to Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) and National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), 22 cases were successfully adjudicated while the Federal Executive Council approved the National Policy on Labour Migration and the Employment Content Guidelines on Public Expenditure Projects.

The ministry also redesigned and upgraded the Wed Portal, NELEX, for ease of job placement by the Ministry in collaboration with International Organization for Migration (IOM) and extension of NELEX Portal to the six geo-political zones of the Federation with full complement of computers, other electronic devices and working materials.

Turaki hinted that the ministry also trained 4,230 persons in various vocational skills from the Ministry’s Skills Upgrading Centres located in Ibadan, Kaduna, Bauchi and Calabar.

He added that 25,500 Labour inspections and 18,254 Factory inspections were conducted in workplaces employing five persons and above in the course of the year.

However, the Supervising Minister listed the challenges facing the ministry to include: inadequate funding for training and capacity development for staff, especially the professional officers; inadequate operational materials/tools such as project vehicles and computers; inadequate office accommodation for Headquarters and state offices; outstanding promotion arrears for staff, totaling N101, 921,389.00; outstanding salary arrears for staff, totaling N162,230,815; partial releases of overhead and capital allocation hampering optimal project/programme delivery and implementation.

Responding, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Labour, Employment and Productivity, Senator Wilson Ake, assured the Supervising Minister of legislative support for the performance of the Ministry’s statutory functions.

Earlier, the House Committee Chairman on Labour, Employment and Productivity, Ekpenyong Ayi, had also given assurances of the lawmakers’ support to boost the Ministry’s performance of its responsibilities.

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