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'Not the right time to declare minimum wage: Advisory Board

Ahmed Aiham
05 March 2020, MVT 12:49
Members of the Mimimum Wage Advisory Board (L), alongside host and Parliament's Director of Communications Hassan Ziyau (R). PHOTO: PARLIAMENT
Ahmed Aiham
05 March 2020, MVT 12:49

Members of Minimum Wage Advisory Board on Wednesday, dubbed the current time period "unfavourable", for establishing a minimum wage, citing fears over rising incidences of the new coronavirus.

During a first of its kind consultation to assess public opinion regarding minimum wage, Chairman of the Board Mariyam Khalida noted that the administration's decision to declare a minimum wage had taken place prior to the virus' rapid spread, and subsequent negative impacts on the global economy.

The board has identified various difficulties posed for the working class, including expensive utility fees and exorbitant rent.

"Teachers and doctors have reported receiving insufficient income in comparison to the degree of responsibility taken on at work", said Khalida, highlighting concerns from the medical and educational sector.receivin

Referring to employer concerns, Khalida said businesses had noted difficulties in retaining Maldivians in long term positions, adding that many are negligent to their work.

Khalida cited a lack of data during the minimum wage formulation process.

Formed by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the advisory board suggested an overall minimum wage of MVR 6,400. According to a report released by the board, roughly 40 percent of the Maldivian workforce were found to earn less than MVR 6000 a month.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) had advised Maldives to set a minimum wage between MVR 6,000 and MVR 6,500.

Addressing public concern over the minimum wage being too low, Minister of Economic Development Fayyaz Ismail, stated that forcing an unrealistic minimum wage may drive businesses to bankruptcy, leading to possible reductions in the number of total available jobs as well as other negative consequences.

He urged the public to accept the minimum wage as decided by the state owing to the fact that the value could be amended every two years after a review. In the case of an economic emergency, said review can be conducted at an earlier date.

Speaking at the Parliamentary Committee on Economic Affairs this Tuesday, opposition-aligned Naifaru MP Ahmed Shiyam, iterated the need to eliminate sectoral differences by establishing a varied minimum wage across different sectors while increasing the minimum wage from the now proposed MVR 6,400 to MVR 10,000.

The Parliamentary Committee on Economic Affairs declared Monday that it would deliver a conclusive statement on the proposed minimum wage report before March 11.