Daily minimum wage hike proposal on hold due to weak economy

Labour minister Karma Dorji

The minimum wage rate for the national workforce will be increased when the country’s economy improves

LHAKPA TSHERING | Thimphu

With the best intention so as to not leave behind the lowest-paid workers, one of the current government’s pledges includes increasing the national minimum wage rate for the national workforce by Nu 420 to Nu 450 a day.

The unpleasant reality, however, is that the finance ministry has put the proposal to increase minimum wages, ending up hurting the national workforce on hold.

This, according to the labor minister Karma Dorji, was due to a budget deficit affected by the pandemic. “The minimum wage rate for the national workforce will be increased when the country’s economy improves,” he said.

The Ministry of Labour and Human Resources following its comprehensive studies and research submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Finance last April to increase the daily wage rate.

Lyonpo said that the upcoming increases in wages will benefit close to 2,800 employees of the national workforce.

Lyonpo said the ministry proposed to increase the daily minimum wage rate from Nu 115 to Nu 460. “In addition, we also requested for provident fund and gratuity for them,” he added.

Besides, he said, the work for revising the national minimum wage rate is also being looked into and the works are ongoing in collaboration with the World Bank.

“To this, we are working closely with the department of revenue & customs to study the economic situations of the private sectors including their incomes and taxes paid,” Lyonpo said.

Labour minister Karma Dorji was responding to the Maenbi_Tsaenkhar’s Member of Parliament (MP) Choki Gyeltshenon the government’s pledge to increase the minimum daily wage to Nu 450 during the question hour at the ongoing parliament session.

The MP said that the government’s pledge to increase the minimum wage rate has not yet been revised even after four years of government term.

Choki Gyeltshen said that the workers face many challenges with the rising inflation. “The current minimum wage is not even sufficient to make ends meet,” he said, adding that those workers deserve the increment even if it is not in the pledges of the government.

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