NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Progressive Liberal Party Chairman Fred Mitchell yesterday questioned whether the prime minister’s foreshadowing of a minimum wage for government workers was “shameless pandering” to buy support.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis revealed the government plans to elevate the minimum wage for the public sector on the sidelines of the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association annual general meeting at the Atlantis resort on Friday.
However, Minnis said Public Services minister Brensil Rolle would provide more details on the matter.
In a statement yesterday, Mitchell dubbed the move “a pathetic and desperate measure to buy support”; however, he noted the opposition would not seek to block any measure that put more money in the hands of average Bahamians.
He claimed the Minnis administration currently has the lowest ratings of any Government since the UBP was expelled from office.
‘The PLP left in law a mechanism to deal with the question of a minimum wage,” Mitchell said.
“This mechanism means that the society as a whole gets its representatives to review the impacts across the economy and then make recommendations to the Government on what to do.
“We will not oppose any measure that places more spending power in the hands of the ordinary consumer. But it is important that we do not have government by shameless pandering without any thought of the larger impacts.”
Prior to the storm, government agreed to an $800 lump sum payment to the Bahamas Public Service Union’s (BPSU) estimated 20,000 members.
However, in the weeks following Dorian’s passage, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said that payment is currently on hold.
Last week, Eyewitness News Online reported exclusively that the BPSU had signed an agreement with the government that will see its members receive a $1,400 lump sum payment in time for the holidays.
Yesterday, Mitchell said: “Just about 3 months ago, the Finance Minister told the country we couldn’t afford the lump sum payment to public servants because of the storm. What has happened since then to cause the situation to change?
“Similarly, the Finance Minister said no minimum wage rise was contemplated. What factors are there in the economy which caused the Prime Minister’s about face?”
Mitchell continued: “We say to public servants, spend wisely. Please put at least one hundred dollars of that lump sum into your credit union account if you can. We also say that the PLP is committed to a livable wage for all citizens of this Commonwealth.
“You can be sure that the Prime Minister gives with one hand and takes with the next. This is not an act of generosity but a cold cynical calculated move to buy public service support,” he added.