MP Abdul Gafoor Moosa has raised doubts over setting a minimum wage before 2020 as an advisory board is not expected to make a recommendations before next year’s budget is passed.
“People want a minimum wage to be set this year. But the wage commission says they can start this in December after collecting information,” the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party MP for Hanimadhoo said during the debate on a supplementary budget on Monday night.
“So we can’t believe that the minimum wage funds can be put in next year’s budget and that the changes to people’s wages will be made by 2020.”
Gafoor called on Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer to make arrangements to set a minimum wage before 2020.
In a first step towards fulfilling his campaign pledge, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih instituted the Salaries and Wages Advisory Board on Labour Day, May 1st.
The board, which functions under the economic ministry, said last week that it would only be able to make a recommendation by December after conducting extensive research and consultations.
“The goal of this board is to finish the work on setting a minimum wage and offer an appropriate recommendation to the minister by December 2019,” it said.
But parliament is required pass the 2020 budget before the end of November. A supplementary budget would have to be passed if additional funds need to be allocated for higher salaries and allowances.
The board was following a careful roadmap since a minimum wage would be set for the first time in the Maldives, the statement added. It is receiving help from the International Labour Organisation and a technical committee consisting of representatives from all industries.
Meetings have been taking place with officials from government agencies as well as employers and representatives from different worker’s associations, it said. An “Enterprise Survey” will also be conducted to collect more information.
The five-member board includes a government appointee and two representatives each from industry and worker’s associations.
Five days after it was formed, Mohamed Ali Janah, former president of the influential lobbying group Maldives Association of Construction Industry, quit the board after an outcry on social media over allegations of unpaid salaries from his hotel and resort construction company.
Janah flatly denied the allegations. “God would know” that none of the company’s 5,000 employees were owed unpaid wages, he told local media.
He was replaced by Adnan Haleem, secretary-general of both MACI and the National Federation of Maldivian Employers.
Chaired by Mariyam Khalida as the government’s representative, other members are Ibrahim Nooradeen, a board member of the state-owned Maldives Airports Company Ltd, Ali Adam, executive secretary of the Maldives Association of Human Resources Professionals, and Mauroof Zakir from the Tourism Employment Association of Maldives.
After the board was formed, opposition MP Ahmed Nihan suggested that MVR9,000 (US$584) should be the minimum wage.
“The per capita income of Maldives is US$9000. So MVR300 per day is a good figure. A rufiyaa for every dollar,” the outgoing majority leader tweeted.
But Mauroof Zakir, who represents the tourism workers association on the advisory board, told Raajje TV that MVR6,000 (US$389) a month was a “sufficient” amount.