Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 18, 2023 (SKNIS): During her participation in the 2024 Budget Debate on Monday, December 18, 2023, the Honourable Marsha Henderson, Minister of Employment and Labour, outlined the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis’ proactive steps to support small businesses in the anticipation of the forthcoming increase in the minimum wage.
Effective January 01, 2024, the national minimum wage will rise from $9 per hour ($360.00 per week) to $10.75 per hour ($430.00 per week), with a further increase to $12.50 per hour ($500.00 per week) scheduled for July 01, 2025. Recognizing the potential impact on small businesses, Minister Henderson announced a comprehensive plan to ensure their sustainability.
Minister Henderson said that the National Minimum Wage Committee, acknowledging the significant influence of these changes on the small business sector, recommended the formation of a task force. This task force will assess the effects of the phased minimum wage increase, starting with the initial rise to $430 weekly.
“We appreciate that the small business sector would be the sector that is impacted by the increase in the minimum wage. The committee suggested that there must be a measure of insulation from the increase in the minimum wage that would affect their cost for small businesses to survive,” Minister Henderson said.
To this end, the government will introduce targeted support for small businesses, primarily in the form of government subsidies and concessions. These measures, Minister Henderson said, are designed to offset the increased labour costs and ensure the viability of small enterprises.
In addition, Minister Henderson highlighted a review of the government’s fiscal incentive policy and general concessions to micro and small businesses. She added that this review will encompass a reassessment of the methodology for calculating cost, insurance, freight, port charges, and customs duties – a step aimed at reducing overall operational costs for these businesses.
“So we did not just in a vacuum decide that we would increase the minimum wage. We considered all the factors raised during the consultations we had and accepted the recommendations made by the minimum wage committee,” said Minister Henderson. “And so Madam Speaker, this government is in fact cognizant of the fact that achieving labour protection for all workers and at the same time ensuring sustainable enterprises, requires an integrated policy approach and a clear and coherent framework.”
This balanced approach, Minister Henderson assures, is reflective of the government’s commitment to both enhancing labour conditions and sustaining economic growth, particularly within the small business sector.