Overwhelmed by the financial burden thrown up by the payment of the N18,000 new minimum wage recently approved by the federal government, Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola has imposed some austerity measures to cut the cost of running government in the state.
For his part, Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State said yesterday that he was willing to comply with the Minimum Wage Act.
The new austerity measures in Lagos include discontinuation of overseas trips for government officials, purchase of television sets and TV decoders for offices, subsidy on petroleum products, spending of money on frills and jamborees, T-shirts, caps, food which used to characterise functions in the the state, car maintenance allowance, among others, have been banned in the Executive Order document obtained by LEADERSHIP in the state .
The executive order dated July 12 sent to the Lagos head of service Mr. Adeseye Ogunlewe, ministries, departments and agencies specifically stated that the measures are first in the series of more head-racking measures to be introduced by the state government.
The governor who lamented the measure said: “It has become expedient for the state government to strictly monitor the way money is spent on governance as the impact of the minimum wage would no longer permit excessive spending by the government.
“The minimum wage has depleted the fund available to the government for social services by N2 billion every month.
“From all computations, the Lagos government will need between N5.5 billion and N7 billion to pay its over 50,000 workers and political appointees against a monthly revenue profile of between N18 billion and N20 billion; salaries will gulp about 40 per cent of the state’s expenditure.”
He continued by affirming that, “The overall impact is that government spending on wages and emoluments have increased to about N2 billion.
“The implications are that government is deprived of financial resources that were hitherto deployed to the funding of social services such as schools, water supply, waste management security and other amenities which helped to improvethe lives of citizens.”
To this end, the governor has also scrapped the grants for supports for private or individual problems or sponsorships , except for very deserving educational and medical causes.
He explained that the austerity measure does not affect bursary and scholarships to deserving students but warned that conscientious efforts would be made to reduce the training of personnel home and abroad.
Meanwhile, Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State has clarified his position on the payment of N18,000 minimum wage approved by the federal government for public servants, saying he is willing to comply with the provision of the National Minimum wage Act 2011.
In a statement signed by his special adviser on media and public affairs, Dr. Cletus Akwaya, and made available to LEADERSHIP, Suswam said as a responsible leader he would not breach the law of the land, adding however that “due to the financial status of the state, it is extremely difficult to immediately commence payment of the minimum wage for the workers in the state.”
The governor, in the statement, however, called for a review of the revenue allocation for the country to give the state more resources with which to commence payment of the minimum wage.
“Apart from the position of the law, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum of which Governor Suswan is an active member recently made and adopted a common position to pay the N18,000 minimum wage, the resolution which paved way for the Nigerian Labour Congress to shelve its planned warning strike. Governor Suswan has not dissociated himself from the decision of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum.”