More than 95 per cent of the monthly revenue earnings by the Niger state government goes to the payment of salaries of workers, the state Commissioner for Finance, Muazu Bawa, has said.
The Commissioner who was speaking at a stakeholders meeting in Minna, the state capital, said the situation has impacted negatively on the capacity of the government to execute developmental projects in the state.
“This is not good for the development agenda of the state government,” Mr. Bawa said, adding that the government would not pay the new minimum wage because monies accruing to it were inadequate to accommodate the bill.
The meeting was convened to resolve some thorny issues as a result of the threat by the state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to embark on strike over the non-implementation of the N18, 000 minimum wage policy.
“The overhead sketch showed that government spends 80 per cent of her finances on salaries and other recurrent expenditure, while the capital expenditure got only 20 per cent,” he said. “A lot of certification on completed projects are still pending to be paid, we have many projects that are on-going, what can we do with N300million?
“We spend 80 per cent of our receipts on salary and other recurrent expenditure, if we move an inch to pay more the state will come to a stand-still and we cannot afford that,” he said.
The State Head of Service, Ahmed Matane, said that the state has a very large work force and a huge wage bill of more than N2.3 billion monthly.
But, the state NLC Chairman, Yahaya Ndako, said that the workers were determined to embark on the strike due to the “pathetic approach of the government to the plight of the average civil servant”.
In his contribution, Mr Haruna Labaran, the Chairman of the House of Assembly Committee on Labour, advised the labour leaders to take reconsider their decision and regard themselves as partners in the development of the state.
He urged them to shelve the idea of going on strike to allow for further negotiation with the government.