The tussle over the new minimum wage, which had on several occasions pitted the Kwara state government against the labour unions in the state, may finally be resolved if the proposed 2021 budget is approved.
The labour unions had embarked on a series of industrial actions, protesting the non-payment of the approved N30,000 benchmark by the Kwara State government, a year after the federal government had adopted it.
Newsmen also reported how the workers downed tools in October for days.
In its reaction, the state government maintained its stance, noting that while it can afford to pay state workers the new minimum wage, it may not be able to implement the upgrade for local government workers.
“At the moment, all the local governments combined earn an average of N2.6 billion monthly, including the 10 per cent of their share of the IGR. Remarkably, the monthly wage bill of these local governments stands at about N2.5bn. These expenses are based on the extant N18,000 minimum wage.
“When the new minimum wage is considered, including the consequential adjustments, the wage bill will shoot up to around N3 billion. Clearly, the earnings of the local governments cannot afford such at this time,” the finance commissioner stated in October.
However, earlier on Tuesday, the state governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, presented the fiscal proposal for 2021 before the state’s House of Assembly.
In the proposed N123 billion budget, Mr AbdulRazaq said the state prioritised minimum wage, cash-backed promotion for workers who passed the recent examination, tech-driven reforms in the education sector, and other social investments.
“On 18th December 2019, I presented the 2020 budget of ‘reconstruction and reformation’ estimated at approximately N162bn. That document was later reviewed downward to N114bn owing to economic slowdown triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the lockdowns and the disruptions to revenue generation, the drop in the global price of crude oil and its huge impacts on revenue inflows. Even so, I am glad to note that our administration succeeded in rolling out infrastructural projects and interventions that align with the theme of the budget.
“Our priorities in the new fiscal year would include payment of the new minimum wage, cash-backed promotion for workers who passed the recent examination, tech-driven reforms in the education sector through our Kwaralearn initiative, social security for the vulnerable, cottage industries, rehabilitation of sporting facilities, and investments in the ideas of our youths through Kwapreneur,” the statement issued by his Chief Press Officer, Rafiu Ajakaye, read.
He added that ongoing and new infrastructural projects such as the Innovation Hub, Visual Arts Centre, courtrooms and school rehabilitation, and upgrading of health facilities will also be funded.
“Agriculture remains top priority as part of our strategies for food security. Appreciable sums have been allocated to irrigation systems, and purchase of fertilisers and farm implements. At least 5,000 rural women are to benefit from the Noiler programme which we are keying into.
“And nearly two years into the new administration, we have made provisions for purchase of vehicles for political office holders within reasonable limits.
“Given the huge infrastructural gaps across various sectors and our agenda for inclusive growth, we may take bonds in the new year to fund critical projects to attract investments and widen the economic base of the state,” the governor said.