Labour Minister to exempt minimum wage earners from paying Housing and Social Development Levy

Basseterre, St. Kitts (CUOPM) — Federal Minister of Labour, the Hon. Patrice Nisbett goes to the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly to seek a proposed amendment to the Housing and Social Development Levy Act.

The Housing and Social Development (Amendment) Bill, 2014, seeks to raise the threshold at which persons are required to pay the levy following the recent announcement by Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas that the minimum wage will be increased from EC$8.00 per hour to EC$9.00 per houre or EC$320 to EC$360 weekly.

The proposed amendment seeks to ensure that minimum wage earners continue to receive the appropriate protection from the payment of taxes.

At Friday’s sitting, the Housing and Social Development (Amendment) Bill which will be given its three readings, will increase the threshold from EC$16,640 annually to EC$18,720 annually.

This means that minimum wage earners would be exempted from paying the Housing and Social Development Levy.

When Prime Minister Douglas’ St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party took office in July 1995, the minimum wage was EC$3.75 per hour or EC$150 per week. The increase from November 1st, means the hourly rate is EC$9.00 per hour or EC$360 per week.

Over that period, the minimum wage has jumped from $150 per week to $360 per week to become the highest minimum wage in the whole of the OECS and among the top rates of minimum pay in the entire Caribbean.

Information obtained from the local Department of Labour indicates that the minimum wage in the other OECS countries are as follows: Antigua and Barbuda, EC$7.51 (EC$300.40 per week); Grenada, EC$6.00 (EC$240.00 weekly); St. Lucia, EC$5.00 per hour (EC$200.00 per week); St. Vincent and the Grenadines, EC$4.46 per hour (EC$178.40 per week); Dominica, EC$4.05 per hour (EC$162.00 per week).

It is also interesting to note that Barbados’ minimum wage is EC$8.45 per day (EC$338.04 per week) and in Belize, EC$4.46 per day (EC$162.00 per week).

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