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Public sector minimum wage hike to come this fiscal year

The Nassau Guardian December 10, 2019 Jasper Ward

A minimum wage increase for the public sector is expected to occur during the 2019/2020 fiscal year, Labour Minister Dion Foulkes said yesterday.

“Given our fiscal constraints, we’re doing the best that we can do for the moment,” Foulkes told The Nassau Guardian.

“Just to have an increase at this time is a very positive thing and it will be beneficial to all of, as I said, the civil service at the entry-level.”

He continued, “It’s supposed to be part of the new industrial agreement. As soon as agreed, it will become effective.”

Foulkes’ comments follow Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ announcement on Friday that “the minimum wage that government pays its staff, that will be elevated”.

He said the private sector minimum wage cannot be increased without more consideration.

The minimum wage is $220. It is unclear how much the government intends to raise that by.

Yesterday, Foulkes said the government is “very pleased” it is able to provide the increase, noting that it’s something that would help some “in terms of the cost of living, it will keep them abreast of the cost of living”.

The cost of living has been a public concern for some time in The Bahamas, with residents frequently expressing frustration over increased expenses and stagnant salaries.

There has been added outrage over plans to add an additional fee to Bahamas Power and Light bills, which the government has said would be used to refinance the company’s legacy debt.

According to data from the Department of Statistics, Bahamians are paying more for basic goods and services than they have over the past four years.

It was also revealed that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose to 108.81 in September this year and inflation rose at its fastest pace in March and April this year by four percent, before settling by 1.8 percent in July at the start of the new fiscal year, where it stayed in September.

In August, Director of Labour John Pinder said the National Tripartite Council will make recommendations to the government on increasing the minimum wage before the end of the year.

When asked about wages that same month, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said the government had not given any “detailed consideration” to increasing the country’s minimum wage.

He said that while the government was aware of the public’s concerns over an increasing cost of living, that trend was “evening out”.

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