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Proposed Minimum Wage Rates ‘Unsustainable’

Proposed Minimum Wage Rates ‘Unsustainable’
Academic and former politician Tupeni Baba (right) with colleagues and students during the 2018-2019 Post Budget Roadshow at the University of Fiji in Lautoka on August 10, 2018. Photo: DEPTFO News
August 11
10:56 2018

Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says having a minimum wage of $5 or $10 an hour would become unsustainable for Fiji’s economy.

And he says that while this sounds fine in theory, in Fiji’s situation one would have to think of the implications of such a move.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum was speaking at the 2018-2019 National Budget Roadshow at the University of Fiji (UoF) Saweni Campus in Lautoka.

He was replying to a question from a student who compared promises by two political parties (SODELPA and NFP) to impose and $4 and $5 an hour minimum wage rate if they were voted into office.

The student said in comparison the FijiFirst Government set the minimum wage rate at $2.68 an hour.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said this wage rate had been set up for unskilled workers, which had been implemented by the current Government. He said before the current Government took power the concept of a minimum wage rate had not been present in Fiji.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said that it was election time and people would come up with a lot of figures for the minimum wage rate.

“But think of its implications,” he said.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said there would be major lay-offs and the cost of doing production for business would increase.

“Next time you go and buy a tin of fish, the price will go up because the shopkeeper will say that the salary for her worker has increased,” he said.

“No one will pay for the increase in the salary. They will charge you for it.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said that the wage increment would need to be conducted in such a manner that it did not lead to an inflationary effect.

He said that a lot of jobs could be lost in the economy if there was a sudden change in the wage rates.

Edited by Epineri Vula

Feedback: yogesh.chandra@fijisun.com.fj

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