LABOUR and Immigration Minister Keith Bell speaking yesterday.
Photo: Racardo Thomas/Tribune Staff
By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
LABOUR and Immigration Minister Keith Bell says he’s expected to have a report on the proposed liveable wage by Monday.
The minister was asked yesterday to provide insight regarding when legislation for the new working wage would be brought to Parliament.
Mr Bell said: “Well, I cannot say that because obviously it is determined by Cabinet, but I can say that I should be in possession of the report from the Department of Labour on Monday, which will direct the National Tripartite Council, which will guide the Cabinet of The Bahamas in terms of where we ought to go.
“Then there will be widespread dialogue and consultation with both the private and the public sector.”
He said the report would indicate where the needle ought to go in terms of the liveable wage and the eradication of a minimum wage.
Last week, Mr Bell said he expects legislation to introduce a liveable wage in The Bahamas to be presented to the public this year.
On March 14, Mr Bell said his ministry expected to receive recommendations from the National Tripartite Council on an increase in the minimum wage within two weeks. That deadline has long since passed.
Last month, council chairman Robert Farquharson told The Tribune the report is in its final stages and will be presented to the government soon. Deputy chairman Peter Goudie, however, appeared to differ, saying in a separate interview that the council wants to do more research before presenting their recommendations.
Mr Bell said at the time: “In respect to the minimum wage, as you would know in our Blueprint for Change we indicated that we would have eliminated the minimum wage and introduced a liveable wage. I am pleased to report that the Department of Labour, the National Tripartite Council, they’re just about completed with their report and from all indications I could say everything looks promising.
“As the matter has to go before the Cabinet, I am unable to say what it is, but I think that all of us in the Bahamian society will be very proud of what the council has been able to achieve.
“Of course, once it goes to Cabinet there will be widespread dialogue and consultation to make sure that we speak with our employers, certainly we’ll speak with the employers and the wider Bahamian community.
“The final stage will be for legislation to be introduced. I anticipate that we will be seeing it sometime during this year.
“We’re gonna run a very aggressive campaign and, of course, we want to make sure that we dot our I’s and cross our T’s, to make sure that we get it right. When I travelled recently to Barbados, a number of the ministers from the other areas of the region, they were very interested to see what we would do in The Bahamas so it is important that we get it right because the entire Caribbean is watching.”
Mr Bell does not believe the liveable wage will have to be phased in.