Government Criticized for Minimum Wage Increase: Is It Enough?

The Coalition Government’s decision to increase the National Minimum Wage by 50 cents from August 1, and by another 50 cents next April, has been criticized by the Leader of Opposition, Inia Seruiratu.

Mr. Seruiratu, during his budget response in Parliament yesterday, stated that workers at the bottom of the employment ladder deserved a living wage.

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

“The continuous rise in the cost of living is something the Government should be concerned about. In April, our inflation rate – the rate at which the prices of goods and services have increased – rose to 7.1 percent. According to newspaper reports, this was the highest observed in the last 10 years.

“It has been noted that the rise in prices has been largely due to the VAT increase introduced in the previous year’s budget.”

He added that the Government must recognize that once the prices of goods increase, it becomes difficult to reverse the price hike.

“The reluctance of the Government to reduce VAT from 15 percent to nine percent in the current budget to help relieve citizens from the high cost of living is a concern. This demonstrates the Government’s lack of compassion for the underprivileged within our communities.

“When prices increase, the losers will always be the poor, as they will become poorer, while the rich get richer.”

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