Reps Seek ‘Bailout Out’ for Access Bank, Others to Prevent Mass Sacking

House of Reps

By Dipo Olowookere

The House of Representatives is considering ways the federal government can support big organisations in the country like Access Bank to pay their workers in order to prevent a mass sacking.

Some days ago, a video went viral showing the Group Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Mr Herbert Wigwe, saying that the lender will possibly cut down its contract staff by 70 percent, while those to remain will likely suffer a 40 percent slash in their salaries, including himself.

Nigerians reacted to the issue and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), with Bankers’ Committee, prevailed on the financial institution and others in the banking industry to put such plans aside.

At the plenary on Tuesday, the House of Reps debated the matter and said urgent steps must be taken to avert a massive job loss in the country.

The lower parliament described Access Bank as an institution “too big to fail” because of “its position as a significant employer of labour.”

The lawmakers said if Access Bank is allowed to “lay off 23,990 employees [on its payroll] ,” which it said “may be the biggest lay-offs by any Nigerian employer”, it will have an impact that will be “catastrophic especially when followed by other banks.”

“Such business decisions will cause more stress and shocks across economy which is already struggling with low oil prices.

“A secondary effect of such an action will be that it will affect the purchasing power of significant segments of the population which will certainly impact negatively on our macro-economy,” the lower legislative chamber of the National Assembly said.

The Reps stressed that to avert this looming crisis, steps must be taken quickly by the federal government to support big employers of labour like Access Bank through economic packages in terms of “income support, tax credits or tax deferrals, short-term work schemes, wage subsidies and tax moratoriums on loan payments.”

In view of this, the lawmakers resolved to “set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate, monitor and liaise with corporate institutions with a view to possible interventions to reduce the wage burden on such organisations.

The House also mandated the Committees on Banking and Currency, Labour, Employment and Productivity and Public Accounts to look into the Access Bank situation and report back to within two weeks for further legislative action.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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