Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State has identified the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) as one of the component channels, if properly deployed, is capable of boosting the economy of the state, especially in revenue generation.
Speaking while receiving members of the organised labour, led by the state Chairman of NLC, Comrade John Ushie, Governor Imoke explained that there were many loop holes in the nation’s economic system which needed to be appraised for correction and felt members of the union should make contributions.
Imoke noted that issues on revenue allocation formula, subsidy, location of tank farms, export processing zones, exploration of quarries, the establishment of cement industries and the status of federal roads are areas where the congress could make their impact felt with the view of generating more revenue to the state.
According to him, “Revenue generation formula has to be reviewed because it creates imbalance. The location of tank farms within the Export Free Zone is not economical because despite the environmental hazard created, operators do not pay revenue.
On the issue of subsidy, the governor noted that “Subsidy should be based on consumption with the state’s having the highest consumption of petroleum products paying the highest subsidy, while federal highways should be dual carriage way, but here, our state roads are better than federal roads,” adding that, “the benefit of this is that it will allow the states to raise more revenue for their interests.”
Speaking on the relationship between the state and NLC, Imoke observed that there was need for government and labour to understand each other, adding that even there is a misunderstanding between them, it is based on principle and in the interest of the citizenry and not sectional or selfish.
He challenged labour to position itself to allow investments come to the state, especially in the area of agriculture because of its multiplier effects, cautioning them to ensure workers are not paid below minimum wage.
Imoke explained that promotion examinations for civil servants were intended to acknowledge and recognise merits and hard work, adding that to cancel it would be a terrible mistake. He said he would insist the state sustains it as a mark of celebrating excellence in civil service.
The governor, therefore, appealed for support to strengthen the service, as according to him, labour is part of the process to bring about the expected change.
Governor Imoke informed the union that the state intends to introduce a mass transit scheme as practiced in some states.
On housing, the governor disclosed that though the state had faced a serious challenge in the first phase of the state civil servants housing scheme in Akpabuyo, which it paid for 100 percent because of the inability of the Federal Mortgage Bank to fulfill its financial obligation, the state intends to commence the second phase of the scheme with the building of 400 housing units.
Earlier, the state chairman of Nigerian Labour Congress, Comrade John Ushie, said they were on a maiden visit to the governor since assumption office late last year. He remarked that they would partner the state government to enable it achieve its programme.