Solomon Star

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Jan. 5) – The Solomon Islands Government proposal to substantially increase the minimum wages from SB$1.20 and SB$1.50 [US17 cents to US21 cents] per hour to SB$7.28 [US$1] is most welcomed.

In reality, such an increase is over-due and certainly all the employees who are paid within the current rate or below will want that proposal to be adopted as soon as possible.

At the current rate, those paid at SB$1.20 per hour are getting SB$96 after two weeks compared to the new proposal, which should earn them about SB$580.80 and they are expected to take home SB$520 after tax and NPF contribution.

The current pay workers are getting is pretty small and will hardly last them a week. The SB$96 is less than the cost of a 20kg bag of rice, which is now worth over $100.

For far too long our people are being underpaid for the great job they are doing. Most of our unskilled labours who work in logging companies, Chinese shops are paid poorly - but the amount of job they do is huge and risky.

Even though certain well established companies are taking advantage of the low minimum wages to increase their profit by paying their workers less.

If the new proposal comes through - it means that employers must pay their workers $520 a fortnight as the starting point. Companies that pay less are in breach of the minimum wage requirement and may face penalties.

By adopting the new proposal it will motive workers to do their job more effectively because at the end of the day they will be properly remunerated.

Having increased their salaries, our MPs should back this proposal and push for its fast tracking as this affects all the ordinary Solomon Islanders.

At the same time it increases the government’s ability to collect more revenue through taxes through pay-as-you-earn (PAYE).

Under the current system, many of the workers earning less than $300 are not paying government any taxes.

By increasing the minimum wages, which lifts the non-taxpayer into the pay zone, gives our government extra tax payers who for years have not paid any money to the state.

It also forces employers who evade tax by taking advantage of the minimum wage to pay tax.

While certain employers will oppose the new minimum wages as it eats into their profits, they have been benefiting for too long and it’s time to share their riches with their workers and the government.

The Government’s proposal must therefore be fast tracked by responsible authorities for its immediate implementation.

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