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VI minimum wage ‘not an easy issue’ to address– Hon Lorna G. Smith

November 10th, 2023 | Tags: Lorna G. Smith wages minimum wages BVI salary
Deputy Premier and Minister for Financial Services, Trade and Labour, Hon Lorna G. Smith (AL) says while the government is taking steps to address the minimum wage issue in the Virgin Islands, it remains a complex issue to be addressed. Photo: VINO
Hon Smith said cost of living, however, remains a significant problem over the years but with the increase in interest rates, and increases in so many other areas, minimum wage will now be given the highest priority. Photo: Internet Source
Hon Smith said cost of living, however, remains a significant problem over the years but with the increase in interest rates, and increases in so many other areas, minimum wage will now be given the highest priority. Photo: Internet Source
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- Deputy Premier and Minister for Financial Services, Trade and Labour Hon Lorna G. Smith (AL) says while the government is taking steps to address the minimum wage issue in the Virgin Islands, it remains a complex issue to be addressed.

Hon Smith was at the time speaking during a Friday, November 10, 2023, press conference and answered questions from the media on the way forward.

Public consultations

“There must be public consultations... There has to be very wide consultation on this whole issue of the minimum wage and, as I said, the minimum wage is just a part of the whole issue of the cost of living,” she said. 

Hon Smith said cost of living, however, remains a significant problem over the years but with the increase in interest rates, and increases in so many other areas, minimum wage will now be given the highest priority.

“That's why I also said that it's being done in keeping with the Labor Code. The Labor Code requires that this minimum wage be examined regularly, you know, regularly. So it will definitely be enforced once it's accepted by the government,” Hon Smith said while noting that enforcement of the minimum wage salary is critical. 

Matter to go to Cabinet - Hon Smith 

The Deputy Premier and Labour Minister said the advisory committee set up to review the minimum wage would make its recommendations to the ministry. The recommendations, she said, would have to be taken to Cabinet and once that decision is taken, the minimum wage would be enforced.

“And let me be careful in saying that is not an easy issue. I was very deliberate in talking about a review because you know, you have to look at and weigh different factors and we don't know where it's going to come out, but once it's accepted by the government, we expect it to be enforced,” she added.

Hon Smith said she has no doubt nobody can live on $6.00 an hour but the Government will look at all the factors and how it is going to impact the macro and micro economy.

“If it were to be increased, how would it impact the wider economy, the whole taxation issues and so, so there are a number of issues to take to take into account with this, this minimum wage,” she said.

39 Responses to “VI minimum wage ‘not an easy issue’ to address– Hon Lorna G. Smith”

  • make it easy (10/11/2023, 13:15) Like (34) Dislike (1) Reply
    You all own is easy to do eh, with just a vote. What's all the hoopla about for the poor man's increase. See others as you see yourself.
    • @ make it easy. Them wicked.. (10/11/2023, 15:52) Like (16) Dislike (2) Reply
      Your so right..Them all about themselves...Why are they making things sound so difficult when it comes to helping poor people...
      • williams (21/11/2023, 19:08) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        I agree with you!,This is ridiculous! I definitely would "Never" work for pennies! In Tennessee the minimum wage is $15 an hour and increasing!!! What is so difficult about raising the minimum wage? The prices in Tortola is so expensive... It have to match the cost of living but they're just trying to keep the poor,poor! God doesn't like ugly! If others should wonder why I'm texting, I'm a V.I lady and the majority of my family is from Tortola! Smh
  • musa (10/11/2023, 13:39) Like (13) Dislike (1) Reply
    I know your ability before election enjoy your term.
  • RedStorm (10/11/2023, 13:46) Like (15) Dislike (0) Reply
    How you mean it’s not easy, it’s easy as peezy. You wants hard? greed. Of the uncle and unties that will have to pay out to their expat constituents.
  • nonsense (10/11/2023, 14:01) Like (35) Dislike (1) Reply
    It's not easy for you and your buddies to address just because you are not receiving any minimum wages. People can't even buy food these days. So Madama Deputy, if you can't address that issue them implement a food stamp system, for the BVI because people are hurting really bad.
  • FEO GOMEZ (10/11/2023, 14:14) Like (30) Dislike (0) Reply
    It's a very easy issue except you have to anger all your friends in government that OWN ALL THE STORES besides the Arabs.
  • Manjack (10/11/2023, 14:19) Like (18) Dislike (1) Reply
    The cost of living is rising exponentially and skyrocketing into the stratosphere, inflicting pain and suffering and putting a hurting on those at the bottom rung of the economic ladder, viz, the low/ unskilled workers. Why the hesitation on increasing the minimum wage, for there cannot be many employers still paying $6 per hour, is it? True, raising the minimum wage will increase an employers operating cost but which can be accounted for on income tax filings. Further, theoretically, increasing the minimum wage may hurt some at the bottom of the economic ladder who it was intended to help. Nevertheless, it is not a question if the minimum wage should be raise. It should be increase soonest.

    Hopefully, employers are paying much more than the exploitive, embarrassing, and shameful paltry $ 6 per hour, which equates to $960 per month. Any employers who pay employees $6 per hour do not really give a rat’s ass about the employees and their families , caring more about their bottomline—profit margin. Yes, employers make the investment and take the risk, but employees are the straws that stir the drink, contributing to the profitably of the company and should reasonably enjoy the benefits from the fruits of their labor.

    Again, given the skyrocketing cost living on the proverbial basket of goods, it is not a question if the minimum wage should be increased but rather by how much. Moreover, the discussion on raising minimum wage should take into account the impact on employers/businesses business operations, but the main focus must be on and about on the health, safety, well-being and paying those at the bottom of the economic ladder a living wage. Hope, there are no ulterior motives to slowing raising the minimum wage or keeping the increase artificially low. Further, it is fraud and criminal to deduct social security and NHI from employers already paltry wages and not submit the deductions to social security, doubly kicking and punishing the employees.

    On another note, there is clamoring call for price control in the BVI, which operates on capitalism. However, price control results in shortages and poor quality products and services.

  • Lucifer morningstar (10/11/2023, 14:22) Like (21) Dislike (0) Reply
    You see the chit? It's not easy smh chupes mans dem please continue to push your dope. Cause thes ARISTOCRATS who you all once again elect will never allow you to LEGALLY earn a fair wage. I never understood why POOR PEOPLE to elect RICH PEOPLE to be concerned about POOR PEOPLE lol foolishness.
  • John (10/11/2023, 14:26) Like (10) Dislike (0) Reply
    you shouid have check that before that is what get you in but most of your family have buniness where they going to get fourteen to pay them staff they have
  • okay...but (10/11/2023, 14:43) Like (7) Dislike (19) Reply
    $6 an hour will not pay the rent but then why do people come and get a work permit for this low pay? The answer is TIPS just like in the USA most people on this wage get tips that can exceed $100 a shift , but none of them want to pay taxes or declare it.
    • So true (10/11/2023, 18:19) Like (2) Dislike (12) Reply
      Employees that make tips plus minimum wage do not pay taxes on tips. Their minimum hourly wage should not be increased. It is not for everyone! If you raise the minimum wage for restaurant employees making tips the company will have to restructure the tipping and the tips will go into the business to be able to cover extra employee costs. This should not be for all employees. Consider what kind of work they do. Bartenders and waiters already make well in excess of any increase of the minimum wage. Don't kill the service business with higher costs!
    • @Okay… (12/11/2023, 08:31) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      When are retail store employee granted tips? Only hospitality workers are granted tips.
  • @Manjack (10/11/2023, 15:02) Like (6) Dislike (6) Reply
    where do you live in the owrld certainly not the BVI or you would know there is no income tax, sounds like your from the UK.
    • Manjack (11/11/2023, 06:37) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      To @ Manjack, true the BVI income tax system may not require annual filings as in other jurisdictions. Nevertheless, it does have payroll taxes on income. The personal exemption should be raised from $10,000 to $15,000-$20,000. The BVI needs to revamp its income tax structure /system. The hundreds of thousands of registered business companies pay only an initial registration fee and a small annual fee; no other taxes, ie, corporate, capital gains, VAT, trusts, etc, are paid save for local workforce employees payroll taxes.
  • Disinterested (10/11/2023, 15:55) Like (20) Dislike (0) Reply
    When legislators passed the “Greedy Bill” it passed as easy as breathing..But now to give those at the bottom rung of economic ladder a living wage, they putting the process through all kinds of Byzantine administrative burdens, looking for excuses to slow the process or keeping the increase so low that it will not even matter. The elites and aristocrats who have never lived at the bottom of economic ladder can’t relate to those struggling to survive at the bottom. If you never lived it, you cannot relate no matter how one pretend to understand. If you never been poor, it hard to relate to living poor. If you barely know that those people, the poor, exist, except during campaigns you pretend to care, how can you understand their circumstances. Come down out of the Ivory Tower down to the street level and get this done,
  • Something more... (10/11/2023, 15:57) Like (23) Dislike (1) Reply
    I am for increasing minimum wage from $6.00 to $9.00 and for an increase in the tax free exemption amount for those making less than $500.00 per week... from $10.000 to $15.000 the people need relief rite now...Stop playing games..
  • Native Senior Citizen of the British Virgin Islands (10/11/2023, 16:00) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    Whose corner is our Hon. Deputy Premier Lorna Smith really in? It is of a truth that she said, in reference the Top issue, that the minimum wage is is not an easy issue to address. The minimum wage issue is one of the top of all issues that urgently need to be addressed, now.
    In fact it is a long overdue issue, that has been overlooked by surcessive political Parties governments.

    Many have, and continue arguing that if the minimum wages issue is address and adopted, let say from $6.00 to $8.00, many businesses would hike their prices, and others would lay off some of their employees. Yes this would happen. Those are some of the reasons why our political leaders should not be allowed to give themselves a pay raise, and travel overseas for entertainment purposes.
    True democratic practices should not be without the people's approval. But the political leaders know that the most of the people of the BVI are weak heart, loud mouth people, so they continue taking advantage of them.

    Lorna in our corner. Whose corner is she in? I know. Most of you, I hope know by now whose corner she is in. If it is true that she is in our corner, who are that are the our? And where is the corner located.

    Fastly wise up people of the BVI, our finances present, and moreso our future is questionable, critical. Break loose from the shackles that have us bound from within. If we do, we will better be able to break loose from the shackles from overseas.

    I am feeling the same pain that you are. Our great enemies are the unseen ones, and self.
    Victory is achievable, over defeat. Do you believe? If you do, then fight for rights..

  • Bree (10/11/2023, 17:02) Like (13) Dislike (4) Reply
    Sorry to burst some bubbles but she is right. It not as easy as saying the minimum is $10.00 per hour. Do you realize an increase in the minimum wages also means an increase in your contributions to NHI, Social Security and other taxes? It can also give rise to an increase in Rent, Food and other essentials.

    What I would suggest, is a Price Control be put in place. Do not announce the wage increase until this is done. Ensure that the Consumer Protection Act that's somewhere idling on someone's desk is pass in the House first. Let us enjoy some of the increase instead of having to give it all back to cover our daily expenses.
  • Officer T (10/11/2023, 18:09) Like (12) Dislike (1) Reply
    Carrying up minimum salary will not help. Price cantrol can help. As u carry up minimum wages everyone raise prices to the very government in taxes, then the insurance comapanies, then the landlords and food markets.
    • Undercover Observer (11/11/2023, 06:03) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      To Officer T, on the surface, setting price control seems as an Occam Razor solution, ie, apparent simplest solution. But let’s take pause and note that the BVI operates on capitalism, ie, the government does not control the factors of production as occurs in communism or socialism. And in capitalism, markets set prices, ie, supply and demand, etc. And if government were to set price control, what maximum prices would be set on goods and services, ie, gasoline, bread, chicken, flour, clothing, rent, etc. . Further, economist Thomas Sowell in Basic Economics notes that price control results in a)shortages and b)cheapest and poor quality products. However, though government cannot directly control prices, it can a) use its power of persuasion to try to get merchants to set stable and fair and reasonable prices, b) lower customs duty on non- luxury items and hope merchants pass savings on to consumers, but remember this will lower government revenue stream, c) lower payroll taxrs, d) encourage competition, and, e) set a temporary cost of living allocation for those at, below or slight above the poverty level.
  • not for everyone (10/11/2023, 18:15) Like (1) Dislike (2) Reply
    Please take in to consideration that employees that also work for tips should not get an increase in minimum wage. They already make way more. Look at policies around the world. Bar tenders and waiters make less minimum wage as a good portion of their income is from gratuity. No fair to restaurant owners to have to pay a higher minimum wage to employees. If so, you will see restaurant owners keeping tips to be able to sustain. Think about it.
    • @Not for Everyone (11/11/2023, 07:40) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      To Not for Eveyone, tips are uncertain and not consistent. You want to take away a little tip from people who are already at the margin, hovering around the poverty level working at jobs that most of us don’t want to do. We seem to want to take issue with benefit those at the bottom of the economic ladder. It is not enough for some of us to be living comfortable we want to make sure that those at the bottom can’t live a little better.
  • Makes you wonder (10/11/2023, 18:48) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    why all the illegal stuff goes un huh?
  • Basco (10/11/2023, 19:04) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    I Cuncur! $10 even better
  • My Take (10/11/2023, 19:28) Like (5) Dislike (2) Reply
    $10 per hour. The hard part will be preventing the stores from raising their prices to offset the increased payroll.
  • hypocrite (10/11/2023, 19:44) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    It is disgraceful that politicians feel no shame or remorse for the increase they undeservingly received with the passing of the greedy bill. Y'all will take your money and repose in your palatial homes and make excuses about how difficult it would be to increase the minimum wage...WHY??? Will paying higher salaries cut into your profit margins? Not really because you'll simply increase your prices to offset the increase. Their salary goes up and your prices go up and there is no relief. Food, rent, clothing, building material, cars, etc. It will all go up. Maybe that's why she says it's complicated. All you are doing is simply moving the goal post. Putting a bigger carrot at the end of the stick doesn't bring the carrot any closer
  • 911 (10/11/2023, 19:51) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
    will Lorna run with NDP…VIP….come next election
    • 411 (14/11/2023, 07:08) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      Who cares. That’s y the whole fiasco happened last election. WORK FOR YOUR COUNTRY AND THE PEOPLE AND NOT THE PARTY!!!!!
  • This Gov can do. until (11/11/2023, 05:57) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Only God knows how long this committee or task force will take with this report and what it will say.. Until this. This Gov can do quickly and its very easy. ' Increase tax exemtion amount to $18.000. For people making less than $24.000 per yr. They can't say this hard. They just need the will, the courage and the compassion..
  • Anonymous (11/11/2023, 06:02) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    To get out of this extraordinary and more than once-in-a-lifetime challenge lands on the shoulder of every virgin islander in this terrority today.

    It always seems impossible until it’s done. Let’s get back to basics. Let’s make the systems of government work again.
    Let’s make living in Tortola, virgin Gorda, jost van dyke and ANEGADA easy again. Let’s make sure these problems don’t arise again. But in order to achieve this, we can’t keep going down the road some of you with your one-sided agenda are taking us.

    I strongly believe Minister Smith is doing a marvelous job
  • Me (11/11/2023, 07:59) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Raise the tax free exemption to $15,000 or $20,000.
    That can help
  • yan (11/11/2023, 08:30) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    The issue of the minimum wage is an economic issue and a human rights issue. A livable wage can be calculated based on the market and the cost of living for a nucleus family in the Virgin Islands. Abolish the employment tax this has been done in other Caribbean countries whereby allowing the employee to take home a more reasonable wage. Lona knows better than to hide behind businesses and even suggest conflict of interest or insider trading. When the bill comes forward stipulate the date for the next revision by law.
  • 2023 (11/11/2023, 09:43) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    folks are issued permission to work for a given company however they in this territory running from job to job and the authority does nothing

    however some local businesses are nailed to the cross by SSB, NHI due to tuff financial conditions in our country. not speaking about the companies that collects money from workers and not submitting

    that is why a tax was levied on money being sent from the territory; most of which was obtained from unauthorized employment(undeclared income

    plumbing companies getting blows because some
    Permits holders doing plumbing on the side

    Garden companies getting blows because the permit holders comes & cut your grass for less money

    have nothing against anyone

  • Norris Turnbull (11/11/2023, 10:29) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    When I work...I need to get Pay regardless the wage....
  • Still struggling (11/11/2023, 11:09) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    I make double minimum wage, I have no kids I have to share apartment with stranger my rent is three quarter my pay . Apartment price are through the roof, groceries, light bill and water bill competing with rent . I wonder how people manage in this economy especially single mothers making minimum wage!!
  • One Size Dont Fit All (11/11/2023, 13:09) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    I know it may sound good to raise Minimum wage, but take into consideration the small snack and gift shops who struggle to make at least $50.00 per day or even less. Some of these businesses rely on seasons to survive especially cruise ships. We dont have a cruise ship season all year round so the shops suffer in slow season, but the workers still have to be paid weather you make money or not. How do you deal with these kinds of businesses when the slary is increased. Prices will then have to go up. Even for the big businesses like the supermarkets, they will further increase there prices because the wage is already low but they have already increased there prices, imagine when it has to be increased. We would like everyone salary to be great but we have to do something to help fix the economy so that business earnings can increase as well. I have one suggestion, bring cruise ships all year round and hold more live activities.
  • Consider this (11/11/2023, 18:26) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    If the government reduce duty on supermarkets, small businesses and gas station. Then ask those businesses to in return lower prices on goods. That will lower cost of living and lower income earners money will go a little further.

    Secondly some have mentioned in these blogs to move income tax from $10000 to $18000 for persons earning $30000 and under. This will be a help to.

    If the 2 above suggestions are done. Many will benefit.

  • Mark (13/11/2023, 09:01) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    This woman has been around Politian's for over 30 years and nothing has change since then, what makes y'all think that she will be the saviors?

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