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Minimum wage rises to bring in New Year

Posted: Thursday, December 22, 2022. 4:48 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: While the first working day of 2023 will be Tuesday, January 3 (Monday, January 2, is also a holiday in lieu of New Year’s Day), new orders have set the minimum wage for all categories of workers at five dollars per hour as of January 1, a Sunday.

Statutory Instruments 169 and 170 of 2022 have been promulgated – respectively the Wages Council (Wages Regulation) (Consolidation) (Amendment) Order, 2022, Statutory Instrument No. 169 of 2022, and Wages Regulation (Manual Workers) (Amendment) Order 2022, Statutory Instrument No. 170 of 2022, per a statement from the Ministry of Labour.

The increase was a cornerstone promise of the ruling People’s United Party’s #planbelize manifesto and is the first rise since 2012.

The Government intends by this means, at least in part, to combat poverty and reduce inequality by allowing working-class families the ability to provide a decent life, in accordance with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, specifically goals 1, 2, 8 and 10, which address poverty alleviation, decent livelihood, decent work and the reduction of inequality.

Acknowledging that general increases in consumer prices and a global inflation crisis have been compounded by the economic shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, sending many working-class families below the poverty line, the Ministry of Labour is currently reviewing a wage-setting methodology that will be used periodically to determine future minimum wage increases.

Key business organizations under the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) have insisted the increase should be gradually phased in. Still, the Government has responded that it is too long overdue to delay any longer. Today’s statement maintains that “this [wage increase] will result in tangible benefits for both businesses and workers. An [increase in income in consumers’ hands will stimulate] the Belizean economy through increased demand and consumption.”

In 2022, a Minimum Wage Task Force and consulting agency held discussions countrywide on the implementation of the higher minimum wage and returned largely positive results.

 

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