ECOWAS meets Shippers Council over low trade in West African region

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…As FG inaugurates committee to adjust workers’ Minimum wage***

The ECOWAS Monitoring Task Force on the implementation of ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) on Tuesday met with the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) to deliberate on the low trade in the West Africa region.

The delegation spokesperson, Mr Nwagwu Julius disclosed this after the task force paid courtesy visit to the NSC in Abuja.

“This is the ECOWAS task force set up by the ECOWAS heads of state, arising from the realisation that the ECOWAS region has made some progress in terms of political integration of the region.

“However, the main focus of the establishment of ECOWAS in 1975, which is economy integration, has being lagging behind.

“Whereas many other regions have made some appreciable progress in terms of trade, to the extent of revolving their inter regional trade to about 45 per cent above, unfortunately, the West African inter regional trade stands between 10 and 12 per cent’’, he said, saying that the task force has been on advocacy visits to all the 15 neighbouring countries including Nigeria since 2017.

Responding, the Executive Secretary of NSC, Hassan Bello said the shippers council has been statutorily empowered to ensure that condition of liberal trade is carried out, especially in Nigeria, to remove all barriers affecting trade.

He said that Nigeria has not been able to standardise the issue of infrastructure, stating that the task force was a good idea.

According to him, the council is canvassing for common laws on the issue of adjudication in the area of conflict resolution.

“We are protecting the interest of shippers in their trade and also the private sector to move the economy forward; it is important that the private sector is introduced to trade.

“The NSC ensures free flow of goods, we remove barriers, increase trade, we implement the measures of international trade by introducing dry port to decongest seaport.

“The dry port will remove a lot of barriers to ease trade and cost of trade, we also promote the establishment of truck transit parks,’’ the NSC boss said.

In the meantime, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, has inaugurated a committee to negotiate the consequential  adjustment in salaries arising from the new national minimum wage.

Mustapha, who inaugurated the committee on Tuesday in Abuja, said the gesture was in accordance with President Muhammadu Buhari’s remarks at the signing of the new National Minimum Wage Act, 2019.

He said the president had said there would the constitution of another committee to negotiate the issue of relativity over the new wage with relevant labour unions.

“Government has carefully appointed members of the committee under the chairmanship of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation with the SGF as Alternate Chair.“

Members of the committee from the side of government include Ministers of Labour and Employment, Finance, Budget and National Planning, Health, Education and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

“Others are the Director General, Budget Office of the Federation, Secretary, Federal Judicial Service Commission, Secretary, National Assembly Service Commission and the Chairman, National Salaries, Incomes & Wages Commission.

“On the side of the Trade Unions, ten representatives have been nominated by the Joint National Public Service Negotiation Council as members of the Committee,” he said.

The SGF said that the mandate of the Committee would be to negotiate the consequential adjustment in salaries arising from the new national minimum wage.

In her remarks, the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita commended the Federal Government for considering members of the committee worthy to serve.

 “In carrying out this national assignment, the committee, as constituted will do its best to deliver on its mandate within the stipulated time frame,” Oyo-Ita said, adding that the committee would do its best to ensure that the benefit from the new minimum wage cuts across all levels of workers in the public service.