3 Feb 2009

PNG Chamber of Commerce says businesses should be able to absorb wage hike

12:25 pm on 3 February 2009

The Papua New Guinea Chamber of Commerce says most businesses have been paying above the minimum wage for some time, so should be able to absorb a wage increase.

The country's Minimum Wage Board has announced the first pay rise for minimum-wage workers since 1993, rising from about 14 US dollars to 39 dollars a week in two stages.

Michael Mayberry, the vice president of the chamber says while individual businesses will be able to apply for an exemption on the grounds they can't afford the increase, he says it will be a concern in some industries, like the agricultural sector.

"Commodity prices are going down, and therefore at some future stage, it would mean that they may not be able to pay the increased wages so a lot of it depends on what the facts are, and we felt that that could have been determined on an industry by industry basis."

Michael Mayberry says the real concern is that only about 2 percent of the population is employed in the formal sector, and the more dire need is to address how to increase the number of jobs.