THE EDITOR: President of the San Fernando Business Association Daphne Bartlett, sees Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s move to increase the minimum wage of 194,000 workers from $15 to $17.50 an hour as a masterstroke by the Government to capture votes in the upcoming local government election.
The number one job of the Government is not to secure votes, but to seek the interest of the citizens. One of the negative effects of raising the minimum wage is that fewer jobs are created. Many employers will choose to hire fewer employees than they would have done.
UWI economist Vaalmikki Arjoon recently described the Government’s management as “fantasy economics,” pointing to its lofty promises but meagre achievements.
Economic insecurity is on the rise in this country as many Trinidadians are losing their jobs and are experiencing great difficulty finding and holding on to good paying jobs that are able to maintain their families. As a result, many are turning to a life of crime, though this is no excuse to pursue that kind of lifestyle.
An off-kilter economy is the new normal and the Government is doing absolutely nothing to fix it. Many have accepted poverty and suffering as the norm as they have been living a hard life for a long time.
People need to come to the realisation that there is nothing normal about elevated poverty levels and stagnant incomes. These are the direct result of policy choices that put wealth and income into the hands of a few at the expense of growing a strong middle class.
The good news is that we live in a democratic society and we possess the power to vote. We must vote a government into power that will make policy choices that can bring different outcomes.
When a government invests in jobs and policies to increase workers’ wages and families’ economic security, children and families see improved outcomes in both the short and long terms.
The best pathway out of poverty is a well-paying job. To get back to prerecession employment levels, the Government must create jobs for the citizens of this country.