WHILE San Fernando Business Association president Daphne Bartlette is happy that the minimum wage will be increased from $15 to $17.50, she is concerned about the drastic impact it would have on business owners.She told Newsday, government presented an "election budget" with a lot of promises but it has put the strain on business owners to foot the bill."They (government) would not have to spend any money for that. It is the business people who will have to spend that money."Minister of finance Colm Imbert presented the 2019/2020 national budget in Parliament on Monday. He said the increase in minimum wage will benefit approximately 194,000 people.
Bartlette said this increase is welcomed and will be beneficial for many as they manoeuvre their expenses and try to maintain an appropriate standard of living. She is, however, questioning the time when it is being done.The standard of living has increased tremendously, she said, "And I would like to ask the minister of finance, which basket did you use to calculate the inflation rate?""The minimum wage comes into effect on December 1, which gives us an indication that the local government election would be sometime in December. This shows the government wants to appeal to the nearly 200,000 workers."So you (the government) are hoping that those people would want to vote and vote in their direction."Addressing the concerns that this measure would have on micro-business owners, she said they are the ones who will feel the pinch."It would affect employment because people cannot just raise prices now, as it would not encourage buyers. They may even have to cut the hours of their staff."San Fernando and the wider community of south Trinidad continues to experience neglect by both the government and opposition, Bartlette said.
"Now that the election bell is about to be rung, the work on the waterfront is starting again. This was the same thing we witnessed with the Point Fortin highway."She said, of concern to the people of San Fernando and environs is the operation of the oil refinery. She is not convinced that the OWTU can effectively make it work for the country."The OWTU, who was against the closure of the refinery, is now going to run and manage it. You (the government) are now selling it to them and we are not even sure they can run a parlour."Bartlette also expressed concern about the lack of attention paid to the agriculture and tourism sectors in the national budget."These can become very good net foreign earners, but none of the governments tend to place emphasis on that. We are dying for foreign exchange and this is concerning for us.She said we all need to move away from the "third world" mentality."