The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Nafo’itoa Talaimanu Keti, during Parliament’s session last week, raised his concern that the cost of living should be increased.
He made it clear with Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielagaoi’s administration, saying that the cost of living does not coincide with the minimum wage which is currently at $2.30 per hour.
Nafo’itoa said the issue had been raised publicly on numerous occasions.
He explained: “Most especially the casual workers who are paid daily and weekly, so we believe it is only fitting to increase the minimum wage.
“Considering the entire surplus that’s been mentioned, isn’t it time for the Government to increase the minimum wage.
“This issue has been raised by the public and this is our duty as Members of Parliament to address the issues, consult and find a solution to the problem.
“Many low income families have only one person working and yet they have numerous obligations, not only to their children, but church, villages and families.”
He also pointed that there are a lot of vacancies in government, especially in the trade field and specialized skills because the salary is very low.
“This was the concern that we have heard from the government ministries when they appear for committee hearings.”
Member of Parliament, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga opposes the suggestion, noting this will have a negative impact on the business community.
“The minimum wage is actually that, the minimum, but that does not stop the employer from paying a much higher salary to the workers as there is no cap.
“If the Government does move to increase the minimum wage, the employer will have no choice but to lay off employees to cover the increase.
“This means people will be laid off,” he said.
Regarding the specialized skills vacancies, Faumuina says the issue lies directly with the Chief Executive Officers and the Human Resources within ministries.
“There is a scale on the salaries and it depends on the type of equipment and tools used for that specific position.”
Nafo’itoa couldn’t agree more on the point that the employer can offer salaries that are more than the minimum wage.
“The minimum wage is $2.30 yet the cost of living has increased significantly. “Back then, this was suitable, but not at this time and age.
“The financial reports indicates there is a surplus and why not allocate those funds to increase the salaries.” Nafo’itoa suggested raising the minimum wage to $2.50.
“This is merely a request and the final decision is up to Cabinet,” he said.