'Not the best time to implement minimum wage'

Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer has stated that he does not believe now is the right time to implement minimum wage in the Maldives.

Speaking at the Parliament's Economic Committee on Tuesday, Minister Ameen noted that the economy of the Maldives has severely declined due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that he believes the country's economy must be restored to its previous condition before imposing minimum wage. The minister said the country could rebuild its economy to its pre-COVID-19 state by 2022.

"The economies of all countries have been shattered [due to COVID-19]. I do not believe this is the right time to implement minimum wage. We do not know how our economy will change in the future," said the minister.

The minister acknowledged that it would not be easy for the government to implement minimum wage at this time. Out of 44,838 employees working in the public sector, 22,379 people earn below MVR 6,400 as their basic salary. Implementing minimum wage would significantly increase state expenses, said the minister, noting that an additional MVR 2 billion will be needed if MVR 6,400 is decided as the minimum wage.

The Minimum Wage Advisory Board established at the Economic Ministry has recommended to set MVR 6,400 as minimum wage for all businesses and industries. The board recommended not to implement minimum wage on the monthly earnings of foreigners at this time.