NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Bahamas needs a livable wage study in order to determine what the minimum wage in the country should be, said Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Davis yesterday.
“I think the time has come for us to do a complete and comprehensive study of what is a livable wage in this country,” said Davis, during a press conference at the PLP headquarters.
“Let us start from there and let us then align it with what our economy is affording and could afford.
“Then from there you might want to project your growth because if the economy is growing then there’s no problem having that statutory automictic increase, tied to the cost of living.
“But if the economy is not growing then you’re heading in for another issue of larger deficits.”
Davis’ comments come amidst ongoing confusion over the government’s plans to increase minimum wage in the public sector.
The conversation was once again ignited after Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis stated on the sidelines of the recent Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association annual general meeting that there will be an increase in minimum wage for government employees.
However, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Peter Turnquest said last week that there is no provision in the current budget for a public sector wage increase.
The minimum wage was increased from $150 per week to $210 per week in 2015.
Prior to that there had been no change in the country’s minimum wage since January 2002.
Asked yesterday whether he believes there should be a statutory incremental increase in minimum wage every few years, Davis said the context of economic growth has to be considered first.
“If the cost of living is going up and your salaries for example has not kept pace, it may be because of your lack of growth in your economy,” he said.
“So there are a number of variables that have to be looked into to consider whether or not you tie salary increases for example, in a statutory way, that automatically endures an increase to an employee, because the circumstance at that time may be such, and the economy may not be able to afford it.
“And that’s a part of our problem, there’s been no growth in the economy. There’s been no real efforts or initiatives by this government to do anything to grow the economy but talk.
“…It’s very challenging to consider in those circumstances, having to time your salary or wages, to an automatic increase by statue.”