Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry weighs in on Minimum Wage Increase


Belize will start 2023 with the implementation of the new minimum wage from $3.30 to $5 per hour. The policy was signed into law as Statutory Instrument No. 170 of 2022, stating that the minimum wage for all categories of workers has increased to $5 per hour and is to become effective January 1, 2023.
A release from the Government of Belize explained that the new increase in the minimum wage is a strategy to combat poverty and reduce inequality. Despite the reasons behind this change, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) has objected to such implementation because it will add significantly to the private sector’s wage bill. Chief Policy Analyst at the BCCI, Dyon Elliott, estimates that the immediate increase in the minimum wage will see close to $200 million added to payroll costs. “It is a concern because many businesses are still in economic circles; we are talking about nascent recovery. “We are just coming out of 2020, almost 14 to 16 % recession,” said Elliott. “We are getting back on our feet. A lot of companies are still struggling even getting back to normal.” Elliott said this policy could lead to adverse effects on employees, and some may even lose their jobs because their employer may not be prepared to pay the increase in the minimum wage.
However, Prime Minister Honourable Dr. John Briceño said the private sector had ample time to prepare for the increase. “It was in Plan Belize, and we have been telling them over and over that this was coming,” said Briceño. “The minimum wage has not increased in ten years, and we have inflation issues, and poor people are making $3.30. I am just appealing to the private sector to do their part.” The prime minister noted that it would benefit the private sector because if people get more money, they will spend more in their communities.
In San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, a few stakeholders shared that most employees on the island have been earning well above the new minimum wage. They stated that with the high cost of living on Ambergris Caye, it is challenging for anyone to survive on the old or even the new minimum wage. As such, they believe this new implementation may not affect island employers.

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