PHILIPSBURG:--- The Soualiga Employers Association (SEA) has taken note of the Honorable Minister of Public Health, Social Development, and Labor, Mr. Omar E.C. Ottley’s press release last week’s newspaper, in which he has alluded to the increasing of the minimum wage of employees. The SEA views this statement and measure to be very premature considering there was no elucidation as to the possible macro-economic impact such measure can have on the household, business sector, and the economy as a whole. Furthermore, such a measure would prove very futile if it is not implemented simultaneously with other measures that would in fact reduce the rising cost of living that is currently being experienced. The SEA is of the opinion that only in this manner, the objective of increasing the minimum would be achieved.
Given the current global economic crisis and in particular our domestic situation of very little or slow economic activity, the SEA is concerned that an increase in the minimum wage at this time would have damning consequences on the employers and the business sector. These consequences would eventually be felt on the part of the entire economy. With the already slow to very little business activity and employers having to increase their wage bill through the proposed mandate, inevitably this would either further increase our levels of unemployment due to layoffs in an effort to control cost or it would inflate the economy more than it already is, since employers would seek to recuperate their increased operational cost.
The SEA is hereby advising the Honorable Minister, that before any measures are adopted or implemented, a thorough consultation with stakeholders and the conducting of an economic impact study are necessary. Additionally, the SEA is hereby advising that instead of seeking to increase the minimum wage, efforts should be placed on the implementation of strategies and policies that would reduce the high cost of living in the areas of, housing, utility, and food. Such actions require the input of the entire Council of Ministers; hence we are calling for such measures of reducing the cost of living and the cost of doing business to be placed high on the listing of priorities of government with practical and implemental actions.
The SEA, firmly believes that with a reduction in the cost of housing, utility, and food, persons currently earning minimum wage would stand to benefit more, since their basic needs would become more affordable.