by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): An increase in the minimum wage in the Federation is coming, according to Prime Minister Hon. Dr Terrance Drew.
It was previously reported that there was work being done by the Labour Ministry to increase the Minimum wage, which had not seen an increase since 2014 and stands at $360 for a 40-hour work-week.
While there has been a general consensus, after the government met with entities in the Public, Private and Non Governmental sectors of our economy, that there should be an increase to the minimum wage, the biggest question is how much should the $360 be increased by given the current standard of living and the economic situation of the Federation.
“We are, for example, from the Central Bank. We have heard from the Ministry of Finance, we have heard from the Chamber, we have heard from the Labour Union. And we have heard from, for example, the Labor Department, we have heard from Social Services, Consumer Affairs and so forth and Social Security, so we have had position papers from these stakeholder organisations, ministries or whatever they might be. And so we have reached the conclusion that there needs to be an increase in the minimum [wage] because we have said there has to be an increase in the minimum wage based on where we are, and everyone has agreed. What we are discussing is how much at this present moment, the minimum wage would be; that is what we are discussing. And of course, we want to make sure that our people get the best deal that can be had at this particular time,” – Prime Minister Drew said during his July 13 press conference.
The Prime Minister said that our minimum wage should reflect our status as a high-income country.
“So, as we call ourselves a high-income country by calculation of GDP and so forth, the minimum wage in St. Kitts and Nevis has not changed, which means that the economic power of our people [is] somewhat limited as a result that. Of course, we encourage businesses as much as possible to pay above the minimum wage.”
Also agreed on is that the increase will happen in 2023; however, the Prime Minister shared that a suggestion from the multi-sectoral discussions and submitted opinion papers is that the increase could be incremental.
“We are not discussing the details in terms of how much that would be and exactly when that will be implemented, but it will not implement the past this year, that decision has also been made. So, that is coming for our people. There are, of course, positions saying to us that because it is post-COVID and we want to increase the minimum wage, the economy is still in a state of recovery – so, this might have to be done – This is one position [tabled] – we may have to do it in stages to get to the number that we want to get – that is one position as the economy recovers.”
The government has also decided that the minimum wage should be reviewed every two to three years, and a report tabled in Parliament to present the review findings and the way forward for the minimum wage.
Until an agreement on the increase and an official implementation date is reached, citizens and residents will have to continue waiting for more details on the promised increase to the minimum wage in the Federation.