Sunvoice

EDITORIAL: Lets Focus On Reality Than Political Rhetoric

Political rhetoric is one thing, reality is another thing. On many occasions in this election cam­paign they have not matched because political rhetoric is either a lie or not founded
25 Oct 2018 11:06
EDITORIAL: Lets Focus On Reality Than Political Rhetoric

Political rhetoric is one thing, reality is another thing. On many occasions in this election cam­paign they have not matched because political rhetoric is either a lie or not founded on sound princi­ples and reasoning or truth.

One issue that has stood out like a sore thumb is the debate on the minimum wage rate.

The National Federation Party is proposing a $5 an hour minimum wage rate. SODELPA is talking about $4 an hour.

It’s clear now that the parties had failed to consult with industry leaders on a realistic national minimum wage rate before they rushed out to make their public an­nouncement.

If they did, they would have learned that 7000 jobs will be lost overnight in the Textile Clothing and Footwear Industry.

The current minimum wage rate is $2.68 an hour. The industry is alarmed by the political talk. It has every reason to be worried by it. It promises false hopes. It is dangerous and wrong as a matter of principle.

The Fiji Securities Industry Employers Association has also waded into the debate.

It has 8000 registered workers. Many could lose their jobs.

President Vilikesa Raqio has wondered why none of the opposition parties who were advocating for an in­crease in the minimum wage rate had discussed with them the practicality of their proposals. SODELPA on the other hand has also said that they will revalue the Fijian dollar by 20 per cent.

Do these political parties think their policies through?

What will revaluing our dollar mean? It will no doubt mean that our currency would become stronger, but at what cost?

Let’s take into account what this will mean for our tourism industry. This will make a vacation in Fiji more costly.

From January till September, this year, we have had 265,681 Australians and 151,951 New Zealanders arrive into Fiji.

649,173 visitors arrived into Fiji. The majority of them were here for holidays. They chose Fiji because they can afford to come here. They could go to Bali in Indonesia, Vanuatu or any other destination but they came to Fiji.

Will this number continue to remain steady or grow if we revalue our currency? Unlikely.

Add to that any drastic increase in wages that skilled workers in the hotel industry will demand if we start giving our unskilled workers $4 upwards an hour.

The cost of holidaying in Fiji goes up, the cost is passed onto our tourists, many of them then decide that it is time to explore other holiday destinations. What hap­pens to the farmer who supplies fresh fruits and vegeta­bles to the hotels when occupancy drops? What happens to the women who sell their craft at the lobbies of these hotels? They are not employed in the formal sector, they do not give themselves $5 an hour wage rate. But they could suffer because our opposition political parties think they know better.

No one is discounting the fact that there needs to be an increase in our minimum wage rate. As The Textile, Clothing and Footwear Industry Council of Fiji presi­dent Michael Towler said, debate on the minimum wage rate during an election period is reckless, it is dishonest and it will lead to job losses.

The bottom line is that we cannot play politics at the expense of the masses.

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj



Fijisun Ad Space


Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.


By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.


Subscribe-to-Newspaper