Beautiful Virgin Islands

Thursday, Feb 02, 2023

Businesses won’t like me if I raise the minimum wage now

Businesses won’t like me if I raise the minimum wage now

The prospect of increasing the minimum wage is not one that is currently being entertained by Labour Minister Vincent Wheatley.

The Minister gave that indication at a recent press conference when asked whether he thought the minimum wage should be adjusted in consideration of the BVI’s existing cost of living.

The territory’s minimum wage currently stands at six dollars per hour.

While noting that businesses would likely not be in favour of a minimum wage increase if he was to do so presently, Wheatley argued that there were other considerations involved.

Minister Wheatley explained that a study conducted back in 2014 recommended that the minimum wage be revised in five years, which would have placed a revision in 2019.

But the Minister argued that there were circumstances that followed which prevented that recommended increase.

“But then up came the hurricanes and the pandemic and COI (Commission of Inquiry). I don’t think businesses would like me right now if I decide to hike minimum wage. The employees might like it. It’s something we have to discuss,” Minister Wheatley stated at a recent press briefing.

He added: “I’ve intentionally put it off until we get a little more settled with our economy. So, it’s not as simple a thing to say as ‘just raise minimum wage’.

Some persons might like it, but you don’t want to complicate what’s already a difficult time.”

‘Living wage’ being considered as alternative

Meanwhile, the Labour Minister argued that while the issue of a minimum wage was an interesting concept, he was more inclined towards a ‘living wage’ for persons.

“If you tell somebody to pay minimum wage, there are those companies who will do just that. Sometimes your minimum wage may not be a living wage,” he added.

Wheatley argued that if an assessment was done on the current cost of goods and services as well as the rates for rental accommodation and contrasted with the current minimum wage, it could not be deemed a ‘living wage’.

An examination of the situation in the context of the wider economy needed to be taken before any approach toward changes in the minimum wage, the Minister suggested.

Premier Andrew Fahie, while offering his take on the issue, said his government recognised that families were facing a struggle, hence his government’s initiative to introduce various economic stimuli recently.


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