More pay for minimum wage earners in Papua New Guinea

Port Moresby. The National: MORE than 80,000 workers in Papua New Guinea can expect more money in their pay soon following the approval of the minimum wage hourly rate by 91 toea to K3.20.
The increase from K2.29 was recently approved by the minimum wage board and endorsed by Cabinet last Wednesday.
It is expected to be gazetted by the end of this week, according to board chairperson Beverley Doiwa.
Labour and Industrial Relations Minister Benjamin Poponawa said in a statement the minimum wage would further increase to K3.36 one year from the date of gazettal, and to K3.50 in the following year.
Poponawa said the increase “in essence recognises the need to provide a fair and equitable wage rate and (also) provides for the agriculture sector and struggling businesses”.
He said it “should adjust the purchasing power of the minimum wage earner” and allow people to raise their standard of living.
However, exemptions have been made for workers in the agriculture sector and employers who were financially incapable of paying the minimum wage.
Poponowa said the determination retained the partial payment of 50% for the agriculture sector and should only apply to employers in that sector who provided a range of benefits set out in the determination.
“It retains the exemption on incapacity to pay at 75% of the national minimum wage and is designed to cater for financially weak employers who may have difficulty in paying the minimum wage in full.”
Department secretary George Vaso said a three-month grace period would be given from the date of gazettal for applications of exemptions to be submitted to the committee.
Doiwa said: “The board saw the need to allow the agriculture sector and struggling businesses to expand and participate fully in the economy thus the exemptions given.”
Papua New Guinea Trade Union Congress representative Anton Sekum welcomed the increase saying it was fair “in that submissions from all stakeholders were thoroughly considered”.
“Calls from industries as well as workers were heard when reviewing the minimum wage,” he said.
“For far too long we have had an inequality in the distribution of wages and with the current growth in our economy, it is timely that the increase is given.”
Doiwa said the onus was now on the department to effectively police it and make sure that all industries adhered to the set rate.

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