Sunday, March 19, 2006

Minimum Wage and Safety Net

Title: Minimum Wage and Safety Net.
As the effect of removal of fuel subsidy started to bite into the pay packet of the low income group, the call for transparency into Petronas accounting of profit and where the monies goes, gets louder and more vocal. As Malaysian citizens, we all have rights to know the annual report; after all we are all shareholders. Removing fuel subsidy is like imposing tax, which in this case is like consumption tax, the size increases with the amount consumed. The low income groups are the most affected because fuel costs take a sizable chunk of their income.
I do believe that the decision to increase petrol price is correct, and in time, the government should completely remove the subsidy, but the government should do more to help the lower income group most affected.
I support Lim Guan Eng’s call for government to give money to Malaysia’s poor, in the form of cash grant or social welfare payment for the needy, disabled, unemployed and low income group. The current social welfare payment by Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat is too low, the poor and disabled had to supplement their income by begging in the streets. This is the time for the government to show their sincerity about the caring society slogan.
I also would suggest to the government to legislate a form of minimum wage law, set at the rate that is enough to pay for comfortable living for our workers. Given the cost of living in the main urban areas, I would suggest that the minimum wage be set at RM1200 for 48 hour week or about RM5.70 per hour which even at that rate it’s hardly enough to pay for rent, food and transportation.
Would employers be able to afford it? Of course they would say no, but corporate profits reported in the past few years suggest that employers can afford it. Its time that the workers get their fair share. Dividends from companies have been increasing for the past few years, so does managers salaries. Given chance, bosses would rather invest in Mercedes ‘mata belalang’ than invest in their workers. Higher wages would encourage employers to invest in higher technology capital intensive business, which lead to higher productivity per worker.

Noor Yahaya Hamzah

No comments: