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Fuel subsidy: FG plans 40% salary raise for staff

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Barring any last-minute change of plans, President Muhammadu Buhari will give his final assent for the payment of the planned increase in civil servants’ pay by the end of this month, which as 12 days away.

If the proposal sails through, it means the increase will be coming about two months ahead of the proposed removal of petrol subsidy.

Officials of the Federal Government said that the fresh pay increase, tagged “consequential allowance”, would lead to a 40 percent rise in the current pay of government workers.

The Director of Press and Public Relations in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr Olajide Oshundun told The PUNCH that the Federal Government might begin payment of the 40 percent pay increase by the end of this month, adding that the three months arrears of January, February, and March would be paid at a later date.

Oshundun could not however confirm if the proposal by the government committee saddled with the task had been finally approved by the President.

He said: “Consequential allowance salaries will be increased by 40 percent for civil servants from levels 1 to 17.

“What we receive now is called consolidated public service salary structure, it is the combination of basic and all allowances. So, the increase will be 40 percent of what a public servant is earning now.

“They will start paying from the end of this month (April) and the arrears of January, February, and March will be paid later. The salary increase is effective from January 2023. That is the proposal submitted by the committee set up to look into salary adjustment for civil servants, but am not sure if the President has signed it yet”.

Last month, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige disclosed that the Federal Government had approved a pay raise for civil servants in the country.

He added that the pay rise had been included in the 2023 budget, noting that it would take effect from January 1, 2023.

Ngige described the pay raise as a peculiar allowance for civil servants in view of the current economic reality and it is meant to help government workers to cushion the effects of rising inflation, the rising cost of living, hikes in transportation fare, housing, and electricity tariffs.

Nigeria’s headline inflation increased to 22.04 percent year-on-year in March, the highest rate since September 2005.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics data, the latest rise in inflation rate is the third consecutive increase this year, increasing by 0.13 per cent points when compared to the February 2023 headline inflation rate.

The NBS added that the cost of food and beverages contributed significantly to overall inflation.

“The contributions of items on the divisional level to the increase in the headline index are food and non-alcoholic beverages (11.42 percent); housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuel (3.69 percent); clothing and footwear (1.69 percent); transport (1.43 percent); furnishings, household equipment and maintenance (1.11 percent); education (0.87 percent); health (0.66 percent); miscellaneous goods and services (0.37 percent); restaurant and hotels (0.27 percent); alcoholic beverage, tobacco and kola (0.24 percent); recreation and culture (0.15 percent) and communication (0.15 percent)”, the NBS report added.

However, leaders of organised labour on Monday described the proposed pay rise as a meagre allowance that would not be equivalent to a 40 percent increase in workers’ salaries.

The National Vice President of the Trade Union Congress, Comrade Tommy Etim confirmed the moves by the government to increase “allowances and not salaries” as publicly insinuated.

According to him, the allowance is an increase arising from the peculiar circumstances surrounding the removal of the fuel subsidy and inflation. He, however, stressed that civil servants were yet to receive the payment.

He said: “I am aware of the moves by the government and the payment is to start from January.  The new payment is not an increase in workers’ salaries. It is a peculiar allowance and not a salary increase, so we don’t misinform the public. it is just an increase in basic salary and not across the board. Other components are not touched so that the market woman will not think the government has increased salary.  It is an allowance because of the peculiar circumstances surrounding the removal of fuel subsidies and inflation. An allowance is not a salary. No civil servant has received so I cannot speak authoritatively until it hits everyone’s bank account”.

Etim, who is also the President of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, further charged the government to consider increment of other allowances such as rent and transportation.

“We would also admire it if other allowances are looked into, especially housing and transport. The present socioeconomic indices don’t favour transportation for civil servants with some spending their whole salary just on transportation, not to talk of rent and other bills. The government should also look at that aspect as it is very important”, he added.

However, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) denied knowledge of the proposed increment noting that, “we are only hearing it as rumors”.

NLC’s National Treasurer, Comrade Hakeem Ambali said the congress had yet to be involved in any form of discussion concerning the issue.

He said: “For us, we are only hear it as rumors because there are procedures for negotiating fringe benefits and workers’ entitlement which is through collective bargaining. It is a tripartite thing that would have to be negotiated. But with what we are seeing, it still looks like a rumour, we are still waiting that the Federal Government will invite the necessary arm of labour where negotiation will be done and we would agree.

“Any increment not based on available and empirical data would not be agreeable to labour. We must sit down to look at the inflationary and economic trends to arrive at a logical conclusion. So the first step is to go back to the negotiating table”.

On theNLC’s next action if the government went ahead with the proposed plan, he said: “We would continue in our push, even in our acceptance speech we made it clear that labour will negotiate with the Federal Government on minimum wage increment, so any allowance that doesn’t take cognisance of the economic reality of the day is not acceptable to labour”.

Credit: The PUNCH

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