KINGSTON, Jamaica: The People’s National Party Youth Organization (PNPYO) says it welcomes the announced increase in the minimum wage but expresses disappointment with the Government’s announcement of $9000 as a minimum below which no worker should be paid.
A statement by the PNP YO said a proposal by the People’s National Party and individuals within the Private Sector, indicated that it would have been more useful if the Government had announced an increase of $12,000 while exploring the concept of a liveable wage for future increases.
The PNPYO notes with concern that as the prices for gas and flour, two essential drivers of the cost of other essential goods and services increase, the purchasing power of consumers, especially the poorest among us, significantly diminishes. The price for chicken, which is the main protein for most Jamaicans, has also skyrocketed. Many working families and young people have been plunged into subsistence and critical poverty, living from hand to mouth and struggling to make ends meet.
The new minimum wage, when measured against the current inflation rate of nearly 10%, amounts to a negligible increase. We must understand that those who earn the minimum are those who are already most vulnerable and who feel first and most, the deleterious effects of price increases. Therefore, any increase in their income must be able to offer some cushion. This increase does not meet that minimum threshold.
The budget for 2022/2023 lacks the fiscal creativity necessary to address the growing economic concerns of our most vulnerable citizens. The PNPYO maintains that the Government must be bold and decisive on this matter. We are therefore calling on the Government to urgently consider a more meaningful increase and not wait until the budget debates to seek to use such an announcement to prop up an already empty and austere budget.
Further, The PNPYO is recommending that, as a country, we move away from a minimum wage and instead adopt the liveable wage model. We understand that this would require extensive research to identify the variables that would be used to arrive at a liveable wage. We are therefore suggesting that the Government utilizes the time between this fiscal year and the next, to have the necessary consultations and implement a liveable wage in the 2023/2024 fiscal year.
It is about time that the Government begins to treat our citizens with some dignity and equity. Our citizens deserve more. Our youths deserve better.