Prime Minister Addresses Rising Employment Concerns in Budget Reading

Prime Minister Addresses Rising Employment Concerns in Budget Reading

Prime Minister John Briceno has acknowledged the rising issue of employment in the country.  Recently, with the increase of jobs in the BPO sector, companies in the private sector are having problems with staffing, and with the fact the minimum wage was recently increased.  Briceno spoke on this extensively in Friday’s Budget Reading.

Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “They have this saying that a rising tide raises all ships. What has happened to the labour market, and we spoke to it with the IMF, they’re saying now that because the minimum wage has gone up wages have been going up all across. Why ? Because now call centres when they were starting to pay they were paying at $5 dollars an hour now they have to pay between $8-9 dollars an hour as entry level. And then tourism, and the Minister from Pickstock always reminds us, now because people are leaving their jobs working in the tourism industry to go and work at the call centre because they’re paying better they also have to raise their salaries to be able to keep their employees. A few months ago I was talking to Michael Bowen at the inauguration of Margaritaville the resort and he was telling me the same thing that he could no longer pay $5 dollars an hour. His entry level salary is again between $8-9 dollars. So because of that one bold decision that we did as a Cabinet I could remember the experts were saying “oh we have to do a study.” and then we were supposed to write contracts for them to go study this. I remember the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry was saying “Well we support the increase in the minimum wage but let us roll it out over time.” This government made the bold decision to increase immediately to $5 dollars an hour.”

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