LegCo takes up minimum wage proposal

National 1 minute, 50 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE State Legislative Council (LegCo) yesterday discussed a proposal to legislate a minimum wage rate that will allow workers in the private sector to lead lives of the same quality as that of their counterparts in the government sector.

During the LegCo meeting yesterday, Dato Paduka Hj Yunos Mohd Noh suggested that the government set equal wage rates for unskilled and semi-skilled labour in the private and public sectors.

The Home Affairs Minister, however, said the government needs to take a conservative approach on the matter.

Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Adanan Begawan Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Seri Setia Hj Mohd Yusof said the proposal must be researched thoroughly to avoid adverse effects on the national economy.

"The daily wage for workers in the private sector is not set and (it) fluctuates, and there are those that vary greatly from the pay in the government sector," said Dato Paduka Hj Yunos. "According to the Prime Minister's Office circular 14/2006, the wage for unskilled workers ranges from $20.20 to $20.70 per day, and for semi-skilled labour from $20.80 to 27.20," he said.

Setting equal rates of pay could see Bruneians and Permanent Residents in the private sector enjoying the same quality of life as their government counterparts, said Dato Paduka Hj Yunos.

He added that it could also make working in the private sector a more attractive option for jobseekers.

However, the minister said the effects on the economy must also be taken into account before any commitment is made to establish a minimum wage rate for the private sector.

"We need to review in precise detail, so as not to bring about any negative, but many positives. Not only for the individual, but in a holistic manner," he stressed.

The minister added that the large gap between the government rate of pay for unskilled and semi-skilled labour was due to market forces.

Pehin Dato Hj Adanan also used neighbouring Singapore as an example of not dictating a minimum wage.

"Following talks with my counterpart in Singapore, it is difficult to set minimum wages as it may impact negatively on the economy," said the minister.

The Brunei Times