Basseterre, St. Kitts, January 20, 2016 (SKNIS): Workers in St. Kitts and Nevis earned higher wages in 2015 when compared to the same period in 2014.
Statistics from the St. Kitts and Nevis Social Security Board revealed that in 2014, 31 percent of jobs were paying minimum wage. This fell to 26 percent of jobs paying minimum wage in 2015. The figures also showed that there were corresponding increases in the medium earning categories for 2015, and 34 percent of the working population earned over $3,033.34 per month as opposed to 31 percent in 2014.
“The obvious conclusion is that our people were better off in 2015 than in 2014,” Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, said at a press conference on Tuesday(January 19). “Earnings were higher for the majority. Add to this the fact that food and non-alcoholic beverages declined by 10.6 percent according to the price index for the period January to October. Our VAT removal programme has improved the purchasing power of all consumers and made life better for the poor.”
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr. Harris added that in the period January to October 2015, total wages and salaries rose six percent in public administration and defence, as well as in the areas of wholesale and retail. A 14 percent increase was recorded in the hotel and restaurant sector and also in construction.
With the positive economic trends predicted to continue in the short and medium term, Government is committed to ensure that favourable conditions in the labour market continue and that the labour laws of the twin-island federation are not violated or circumvented.
“We make it abundantly clear that the workplace in St. Kitts and Nevis must reflect predominantly citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis and legal migrants into our country.” Dr. Harris said. “The Ministry of Labour has been tasked to do more monitoring of the construction, tourism, and hospitality sectors to ensure full and faithful compliance with the laws and regulations governing work permits and CARICOM (Caribbean Community) skilled certificates.”
However, the prime minister stated that Government was not insensitive to the needs of employers and as such welcomed persons with skills sets that are needed to assist the development/completion of their international project.
The Ministry of National Security reported that 509 work permits were issued in 2015. This is down from the 773 issued in 2014. The permanent secretary in the ministry has forwarded several recommendations to “clamp down on persons working without work permits.”
Prime Minister Harris urged employers to be mindful of Government’s policies and work within the confines of the law.