BVI News

Gov’t can’t guarantee what new minimum wage will be

Deputy Premier and Labour Minister Lorna Smith

While revealing that an advisory committee has been assigned to review the territory’s minimum wage, Labour Minister Lorna Smith has stated that the government cannot predetermine what the new amount will be.

The minimum wage was last increased on 1 October 2016, from $4.00 per hour to $6.00 per hour. But a 2022 review of social sssistance in the Virgin Islands, conducted by the Social Policy Research Institute, observed that the minimum wage is well below what is now needed to survive in our territory.

And since the COVID pandemic and the inflationary conditions that came afterwards, there have also been increasing calls for employers to bump the minimum hourly rate at which workers are paid. Residents have also given varying suggestions of what the new minimum wage should be.

But speaking at a recent press conference, Minister Smith cautioned that the new amount can only be determined after the in depth study is done by the committee and their recommendation is approved by the government.

“Let me be careful in saying it’s not an easy issue. I was very deliberate in talking about a review because you have to weigh different factors and we don’t know where it’s going to come out. But once it’s accepted by the government, we expect it to be enforced,” Minister Smith said.

Pressing for a more straightforward response, a journalist asked them to clarify whether residents should look forward to the minimum wage raising next year.

Minister Smith said: “When I say it’s a review, I mean you have to weigh different factors. I have no doubt nobody can live on $6 an hour – I don’t even know how many people are being paid that. But we want to look at all the factors, how it would impact the wider economy, the taxation issues and so on.”

Minister Smith added that the government is conscious of the many economic challenges residents are currently facing.

“We must all put our shoulder to the wheel — government, employers and employees to ensure that individuals on low incomes do not bear a greater share of the burden than they should,” she said.

She also promised that the review will be comprehensive, transparent, and involve the expertise of a diverse range of stakeholders to ensure inclusive participation and perspective. Importantly, the ad-hoc Committee will report by the end of March 2024.

The committee will also have access to technical support from economists, statisticians, financial analysts, and other government officials and development partners. This expertise will support the reviewers in assessing and analysing complex data, develop and evaluate policy options, and make informed recommendations.

The Committee is expected to complete its review and submit its final report to me as the subject minister within four months of its inaugural meeting, which is scheduled for late November.


Copyright 2024 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.


Disclaimer: BVI News and its affiliated companies are not responsible for the content of comments posted or for anything arising out of use of the comments below or other interaction among the users.

  1. Anonymous says:

    If the Social Policy Research Institute report concludes that minimum wage is well below what is needed to survive, you’d surely expect that there’d be at least a range of wages that would be considered sufficient to survive. Otherwisee, what is the point of the report? It does not take much financial expertize to reach the conclusion that $50/day is not enough to live in the BVIs, or USVIs for that matter.
    Surely the underlying issue is that many locally owned businesses depend on their success by paying as little as possible to maiximise their profit. Raising minimum wage to say $100/day ($12/hr) would not go down well among those voters. Moreover, it would impose payroll tax collection and remittance by employers who generally already seem not overly compliant in this area. IMHO, businesses would do better by paying good wages to retain competent staff

    Like 11
  2. Anonymous says:

    So the Social Policy Institute report contains no guidelines as to what would constitute a living wage? It doesn’t take much financial expertise to figure that $ 6/hour ($ 50/day) is not a living wage in the VIs. Inflation alone means that $6/hourin 2016 is equivalent to less than $ 5/today.

  3. Margret Thatcher says:

    In other words the minimum wage rates can not adversely affect OneMart’s bottom line.

    Like 12
    Dislike 2
  4. Licher and Sticher Good says:

    Then this task force/ committee/ whatever is a waste of time like the one set up by your husband back in the day that never provided a report either. What do you expect from a tired 70 yr old, Luarna in the Corner, same ole games.

  5. Until then.. says:

    Just increase the tax exemption amt for people making under $24,000 per yr as an immediate relief and stop playing games, tricks and lying to us. How can you put all business people on a review committee and say you working for the people.? Lie

  6. Hmm says:

    It have companies bringing in their friends to work without work permit and making them work more days than the regular staff. If we complain to labor I doubted they will do anything. Charter companies again. We are afraid to talk cause they will victimized us.

    Like 6
    Dislike 0
  7. Question? says:

    Who can survive working for $6.00 per hour in the BVI when everything is so expensive? One cannot even buy a plate of food with $6. Come on. We need to do better.

    No wonder some people steal or get involved in the drug trade. No wonder some people may have multiple boyfriends/girlfriends to help pay the bills. One for electric, one for rent, and one for food.

    Yeah…it’s that bad for some, and wrong or right, when your back is against the wall, you might just sell your soul to the devil. Temptation is strong with that minimum wage.

    Pay people a living wage for God’s sake so they don’t have to resort to drastic means to make ends meet.

    Like 11
  8. Tips says:

    Please consider restaurant workers earn tips in addition to min wage. They already earn more than min wage. Do not increase!

    Dislike 12
  9. What's you take on it? says:

    Of course not. Business controls government.


    Is is a shame in the 21st where only the rich, the political elite and the business industry that controls them, and to whom they answer to, still have no care or respect for the electorate who gave the a job to look out for them.

    Read that head line again. What’s you take on it?

    This is to much. This territory is headed towards a rebillion that is silently brewing. Mark those words. The chain will break!

  10. Redstorm says:

    What silliness! Who guarantee the minimum wage? the businesses ! It’s government who will give the final words. THe business committee can trash out all analysis, but the government minister dedicates in the House if it should be 12-15 per hour. It’s a start of living wage and they are entitled to it. All other countries paid better wages, but in BVI you have to work two to three days to buy some squeeze oranges in the supermarket for a month.

    How many school graduates would work for 6¥ per hour , if all those expat go back to their country? No one of them! This will leave a gap until more of one group of people decide to come work in tourism, a place where natives should be in all areas to develop the country.

    Retaining good workers is to motivate them by rewards, whether by money, recognition or favors,they are the ones who a dedicated to execute your plans.

  11. Ausar says:

    “TIPS”,You should be ashamed of yourself, suggesting that tipped workers remain in the same wage as they were, six years ago.

    I wonder, if this is some greedy Expat employer of a different race, making these statements?

    In the US Virgin Islands, tipped workers earn three dollars less, than minimum waged workers. And it should be no different in this country!

    Again, I say, ten(10) USD per hour, for minimum wage.

    It is the right thing to do, in these tough economic times.

    Commodities have increased, annually, despite, having such low wages. Imagine,in the Eighties, minimum wage was , I guess, four dollars, an hour. And, rental housing, was, for many, in the low hundreds of dollars, monthly. Yet, by the time, minimum wage was increased, in 2016,rental housing, for many people, was , and still is, in the thousands, MONTHLY!

    WHY didn’t rental housing, remain stagnant in increase, as the minimum wage.

    Therefore, since commodities increased annually, without regards, to the care and concerns of the minimally waged, minimum wage SHOULD INCREASE,WITHOUT REGARDS, to the whims, fancies, and misdesires, of the the selfish, and wicked minded employers!

    NOW, IS, the time!

  12. $10 says:

    Per hour Is reasonable

    Like 1
    Dislike 0
  13. Rubber Duck says:

    Unfortunately you cannot raise wages without prices rising.

    In a service oriented economy like ours, wages are the biggest cost businesses have.

    I fully agree that $6 an hour is too low.

    But those demanding it be doubled should be aware that prices will rise and the inflationary cycle will begin again.

  14. TurtleDove says:

    One dollar a year raise until it get to 12 dollars. This will give employers reaction time. Those who can afford it do it sooner..but I wont hold my breath.

  15. El Demonio Negro says:

    She will not go against her friends minimum wages won’t change. If it does then all the asians will take all the jobs cause they don’t care bout minimum wage.

  16. LOL says:

    It is amazing that people think if minimum wage is raised it automatically means that everything will be affordable. The same business that is selling the product and service are the ones that will pay the higher wage. The wage is paid from sales. Businesses operate for profit not for show. The cost of living is prohibitive partly because of the fees govt are charging businesses, particularly for imports. The cost to do business is high therefore prices are high. Increase the cost to do business and costs will go higher. We need investment and a diversified economy not small talk and committees.

Leave a Comment