The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has described Nigerian workers’ minimum wage of $30 for 30 days as extremely poor, and called for an urgent upward review of the wage structure.
The chamber, in its Independence Day message yesterday, said an appraisal of the past 63 years showed that the Nigerian economy had performed sub-optimally with huge implications on citizens’ welfare and rising uncertainty.
It noted that the economy was struggling with difficult conditions including high inflation, weak currency, declining reserves, falling household purchasing power, rising debt burden, high and rising unemployment, rising income gaps and poverty levels.
The president of LCCI, Asiwaju Michael Olawale-Cole, however, said despite these challenges, Nigerians have persevered in promoting democracy and becoming Africa’s pride since 1999.
According to him, since 24 years ago, Nigerians’ support for democracy has earned the country enormous goodwill as one the few stable democracies in Africa.
“The present administration has implemented far-reaching policy reforms, such as removal of fuel subsidy, exchange rate harmonisation, tax reforms, etc., in an effort to change the country’s growth trajectory. Sustaining market-friendly policies and promoting macroeconomic stability is one of the most important steps in achieving optimal growth and improving citizens’ welfare,” he said.
LCCI also recognised the impacts of the reforms on vulnerable workers and low-income earners, saying: “The Chamber is of the view that there is urgent need to review the wage structure of Nigerian workers. At $30 for 30 days, the minimum wage is extremely poor.”
Olawale-Cole stated that “with high inflation rate, volatile exchange rate, low GDP growth, weak infrastructure and insecurity, among others, I call on the federal government to address the macroeconomic issues and the insecurity challenges facing the country.
“The economic growth trend, measured by the GDP performance, has generally been positive over the last two decades, except for recent challenges posed by debt crises, inflation risks, insecurity, post-effect of subsidy removal, and Forex illiquidity.”
He added that “the business environment remains a concern to investors, especially in the real sector. Weak infrastructure, uncertain policy environment, and weak institutions have continued to adversely affect the efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness of many enterprises.
“These conditions pose a major risk to job creation, economic inclusion, and competitiveness, especially with the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement now in place,” he said.
On key challenges in the business environment, LCCI president noted that, “poor power supply remains a major burden on businesses. It is an area of progressive decline since Independence. With the frequent collapses recorded by the national grid, we can no longer rely on a centralised power source. The way to go is renewable energy and decentralising the national grid.
The LCCI president also noted that country’s security situation had deteriorated in the last year, impacting investment inflow and worsening the country’s perception and image by the global investing community.
He also stressed the need to address Nigeria’s infrastructure challenges which, he said, would require sustained expenditure of almost $14.2 billion per year over the next decade, or about 12 percent of GDP.