Criticism Over Government’s Minimum Wage Increase

The Coalition’s government decision to raise the National Minimum Wage by 50 cents from August 1, and again by another 50 cents next April, has come under fire from Opposition Leader Inia Seruiratu.

During his budget response in Parliament yesterday, Mr. Seruiratu emphasized that workers, especially those at the lower end of the employment spectrum, deserve a living wage.

“The lift in minimum wages is welcome, but many workers believe that the 50 cents increase falls far short of compensating for the significant increases in prices of basic goods, food items, and services,” Mr. Seruiratu said.

“The continued rise in the cost of living is an issue that the government should address. In April, our inflation rate hit 7.1 percent, the highest in the last 10 years according to newspaper reports.”

He pointed out that the increase in prices is largely due to the VAT hike introduced in the previous year’s budget.

Mr. Seruiratu argued that once the prices of goods go up, it is challenging to roll them back.

“The government’s reluctance to reduce VAT from 15 percent to 9 percent in the current budget to ease the high cost of living is a concern. This shows a lack of compassion for the underprivileged in our communities.”

“When prices rise, the poor suffer the most, becoming poorer while the rich get richer,” he added.

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