Monday, September 27, 2021

Governor Will Evaluate Recommendations Before Approving Minimum Wage Increase

By on June 25, 2021

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said he would wait to receive the recommendations of a multisectoral advisory group he appointed to evaluate the minimum wage before approving an increase through legislation.

The governor, who is in Washington, D.C., requesting Medicaid parity for the island, made the announcement through a recorded message during a lunch held at the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce relating to legislation that could raise the minimum wage, which is being considered by the Puerto Rico House and Senate. 

The group is composed of several members, including representatives of union organizations and Pierluisi administration officials, as well as the heads of several agencies such as the Department of Labor and Human Resources (DTRH by its Spanish initials),  and the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC by its Spanish initials). 

It is worth noting that the group includes representatives of the private sector such as a representative from the CPA Society; the Chamber of Commerce; the Manufacturers Association; the United Retailers Center; the Chamber of Food Marketing, Industry and Distribution (MIDA by its Spanish acronym); the Retail Trade Association; the Restaurant Association; and the Associated General Contractors. 

The task force is to provide the governor with recommendations before the next legislative session begins in August. However, on Wednesday, the Senate passed House Bill 338, increasing the minimum wage in Puerto Rico to $9 an hour. The version passed by the lower chamber established the minimum at $8.50 an hour.

The bill also restored the Minimum Wage Board, which will act as an independent entity with technical capabilities and will have the power to raise the minimum wage every two years.

The House of Representatives must ratify the measure before sending it to the governor for enactment.

Meanwhile, Pierluisi’s chief of staff, Noelia García Berdiales, said there is a consensus on the need to raise the minimum wage, “but it has to be through a process designed to identify how and when.”

For his part, Economic Development Secretary Manuel Cidre said a sudden increase to $9 could affect the operation of small and medium-sized companies. He argued that for this reason, the initiative must go hand in hand with strategies to help the most affected businesses.

Cidre said Pierluisi’s administration is working on initiatives that will guarantee financial aid to citizens even after increasing the income cap. The official said this will foster employment among people who could be receiving financial assistance

He said he felt confident that once federal aid for the pandemic ends in September, people will go back to looking for work, and the labor-force participation rate will increase.

During the event, one of the first to be held in-person after the government relaxed COVID-19 health-safety measures,  attendees were screened with software developed by the Puerto Rican technology firm LeadPivot to confirm vaccination. 

“We made software specially designed for events. It’s called Immunitapass Events. It is a version that ties the person’s ticket to the chair and has all the risk management provisions that the platform already had,” explained Francisco Rodríguez Castro, director of LeadPivot, a subsidiary of Birling Capital, of which he is president and CEO.

The winners of the annual CofC Zenith Awards were also announced during the event.

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