Living wage issue

RAISING the minimum wage would increase economic activity and could also contribute to more employment opportunities, says National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad.

“If you look at the experience of other countries where the minimum wage debate has taken place and where minimum wage guidelines have been implemented, it’s always been the conservative, right wing thinkers, governments and businesses who think that raising the minimum wage will lead to loss of jobs,” he said.

“As an economist, that’s a theory. In theory that can happen.

“But in the context that we are in — a context where the cost of living is very high, where businesses can afford to raise the salaries and wages — in fact it may help to create more jobs because you are increasing the purchasing power of people, you are increasing consumption, businesses may also benefit.

“The living wage is the most important and socially responsible thing to talk about in any country. And all those people, including Government, who are talking about loss of jobs as a result of raising the minimum wage is completely misplaced.

“They don’t understand the context in which we are talking about a living wage.

“In fact a living wage could enhance job growth as opposed to this fear-mongering by some businesses and Government.”

Prof Prasad said an NFP Government would engage with the business community about the benefits of raising the minimum wage to $5 an hour.

“We would be able to deal with that and sell this policy. In fact we will be talking to businesses and employers and we will try and convince them that this is feasible.”

He made the comments during a press conference held at the Tanoa Waterfront Hotel in Lautoka last week Friday.

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