• Monday, April 15, 2024
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Nigeria’s minimum wage fails to cover basic food items – Report

Basic food items required for survival by an average Nigerian family, cost N48, 130 in January 2023, which is 60.4 percent higher than the country’s monthly minimum net wage of N30,000, according to a new report by an international e-commerce platform.

The basic food items put in the basket by the report are milk, bread, rice, eggs, cheese, beef, fruits and vegetables. According to the report, the price of 10 litres of milk was N12,960 as at January, 10 loaves of bread costs N5,390, 1.5kg of rice was N1,670, 20 pieces of eggs cost N1,400, and 1kg of cheese was N1,840. Others are 6kg of beef priced at N12, 310, six kg of fruits (N5, 520), while 8kg of vegetables was N7, 040.

BusinessDay analysis of the report shows that the 60.4 percent is the highest in five years when compared with the same period in 2022, which was 36.6 percent; 17.7 percent in 2021, 8.1 percent in 2020, and 5.1 percent in the same period 2019.

A further analysis of the 2023 Minimum Wages report by Picodi.com, an International e-commerce platform, shows that the amount in January this year surged by 52.6 percent from N31, 536 in 2019.

“This means that the wages of those paid the least increased slower than the food prices and the minimum wage is not enough to cover even such a basic basket of products,” it said.

In comparison, the report said in Asia-Pacific countries such as India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, basic food costs over half of the minimum income.

“The basket consists of eight groups of food products such as bread, milk, eggs, rice, cheese, meat, fruits and vegetables. The list is very limited, but those products in the given amounts are enough to meet the minimum nutrient requirement for an average adult,” the report said.

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It further revealed that Nigeria ranked least out of 67 countries in its best basic food price index.

“Nigeria is in the last (67th) place in the ranking, with a ratio of 160.4 percent, being passed by countries such as South Africa (35.6 percent, 50th place), the United States (12.5 percent, 11th place) and the United Kingdom (6.5 percent, first place).

“In only seven out of 67 countries included in our ranking, the minimum wage did not increase compared to January 2022. Among others, these countries are Israel, Hong Kong and Nigeria,” it added.

Inflation in Africa’s biggest economy surged to a 17- year high last year on the back of the fallout of the Russia-Ukraine war. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics show the country’s inflation rate rose to 21.34 percent in December 2022, the highest in 17 years from 21.47 percent in the previous month.

Food inflation, which constitutes 50 percent of the inflation rate, rose to 23.75 percent in December from 24.13 percent.

“Nigeria’s accelerated inflation growth has eroded the N30, 000 minimum wage by 55 percent and widened the poverty net with an estimated five million people in 2022,” the World Bank has said in its latest Nigeria Development Update report.

It said higher inflation in 2022 is estimated to have pushed an additional five million Nigerians into poverty between January and September 2022, mainly through higher prices of local staples- rice, bread, yam, and wheat, especially in non-rural areas.

“Between 2020 and 2022, for instance, the inflation shock has pushed an estimated 15 million Nigerians into poverty.”

The World Bank report highlighted that the minimum wage, which was $82 in 2019, had dropped to $26.

Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank’s country director for Nigeria, said over the years, the country which has been floating along and riding on the oil price movement, is now at a critical junction.

“Nigeria has a choice to implement critical macroeconomic and structural reforms that can reduce crisis vulnerabilities and increase growth. Doing so will lift per-capita incomes, sustainably reduce poverty and deliver better life outcomes for many Nigerians,” he said.