Aregbesola And Burden Of New Minimum Wage | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Aregbesola And Burden Of New Minimum Wage

Posted: May 23, 2016 at 3:30 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Gbenga Faturoti

Osogbo- In the last one year, the Government of the State of Osun under the leadership of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has been facing challenges meeting its obligations to its workforce due to the dwindling resources accruing to the state from the federation accounts. The situation has no doubt forced the state government to introduce certain modalities on the payment of salaries based on the resources available at the end of every month. Among the modalities was payment of full salaries to workers on grade levels 01 to 07 while workers on grade level 08 and above are being paid 50%.

However, agitation for new minimum wage by the organised labour in the country is however giving both the state government and workers worry on its implementation in the state when the new wage is eventually agreed and approved. Though, it was not certain what will be the new minimum wage in the country, it was learnt that no amount agreed on with the leadership of Labour will not pose additional burden on the purse of the government in the state.

This agitation for new minimum wage , according to Independent findings is already creating apprehension in the mind of public servants in the state especially regarding its implementation. The situation is becoming more worrisome for them the workers considering the little or zero allocation accruing to the state from the federation account in the last few months.

To be precise, in November 2015, allocation to the state from the federation account after all deductions were made was minus –N24m; an indication that the state was still indebted to the federal government when the allocation was eventually shared. Also, when the allocation for the month of January 2016 was released, the state after all deductions and external debts had been removed was left with paltry sum of N6.2m, a development which generated series of controversies especially from the opposition parties; few civil organizations based in the state and the government.

Opposition parties capitalised on the meagre resources accruing to the state to raise some posers on the possibility of the state been able to fulfill its financial obligations to its workforce. The opposition parties including Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Civil Societies Coalition for the Emancipation of Osun State Osun chastised the state government on the situation describing it as aftermath of reckless spending by the administration.

But the state government swiftly responded that despite the meagre allocation to the state, it was paying salaries for workers and pensioners in the state. As at last count, the state has paid salaries to its workforce up till the month of February 2016 and at the time of filling this report, investigation revealed that process for the payment of two months salaries to capture the month of March and April 2016 are in top gear. The state government did not mince words assuring the workers that it will not default on its responsibilities to them as well as residents of the state.

Before now, when allocation to the state was better off, the administration was paying salaries of workers on or before 27th of every month, not even waiting for the monthly allocation. The administration was also paying 13th month salary to workers as bonus to boost their morale since assumption of office in 2010 by Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. The fact remained that the state government has since the time the allocation was reducing, began to look inward and had carried out a re-engineering strategies in its revenue generation system boosting its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) through which it was conveniently meeting the salaries of workers. As the state was trying to cope with the situation presently, increment in wage bill through new minimum wage without more fund from the federation account may be too dangerous to states especially Osun which is first from the rear on the allocation table.

Aside, the state may need to redouble its efforts on the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to cope with new minimum wage. The administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola needs to look into other sources of generating more funds to be able to meet its obligation to workers while residents of the state must be ready to support the government by paying their taxes promptly. Others avenues of generating funds which hitherto had been neglected as a result of discovery of oil which, rather than be a blessing has become burden on the country; must be fully harnessed and tapped.

Governor Aregbesola while addressing cross section of artisans working at Unity/Fakunle High School Osogbo during an unscheduled inspection tour harped on the need for the people especially the youth to embrace agriculture as the only panacea to the current economic crisis facing the nation. He maintained that his administration’s commitment to embark on massive infrastructures across the length and breadth of the state was not for fun but rather to generate mass employment opportunities, enrich common man and as well create wealth for the state.

About  40 youths were sent to  Germany to acquire modern technology training in agricultural practices in line with the Six Point Integral Action Plan of the administration. Analysts have argued that the government must also ensure effective control the forest in the state which is another avenue to generate fund. A survey carried out by this reporter on a particular day revealed that no less than 30 trailer loads of planks/logs are ferry out of the state on daily basis to northern part of the country.

To these ones, If the government could effectively harness this avenue, lot of sources are lost through illegal felling of logs in the state from which huge revenue could be generated. Land use charges is another area that the state could explore to generate funds as Osogbo and other major towns in the state are expanding by the day structurally. New buildings such as hotel, filling stations, relaxation centres, eateries, car wash points and shopping complexes are springing up and they are source of revenue to government. Osun is also blessed with lots of tourist points which the government can develop to fetch more money to the state.

The Government of the State of Osun may also have parley with the Federal Government on the moribund companies located in Osogbo which had been privatized to some investors. Investigation conducted revealed that since the time companies loke Osogbo Steel Rolling Company (OSRC); Nigeria Machine Tools (NMT) and others had been sold to investors; they have not been put to use. If the state can work with federal government to ensure that the beneficiaries are made to put the companies to work, it will generate employment which eventually has impact on the state IGR. If these are done, the state may surprise the opponents wishing not wishing it well