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Minimum wage report should be reviewed first, Puerto Rico official says

By on October 2, 2019

Economic Development Secretary Manuel Laboy (Jaime Rivera/CB)

Following introduction of bill, Economic Development secretary points to 2017 study

SAN JUAN — Puerto Rico Economic Development Secretary Manuel Laboy said Wednesday that a report with recommendations for raising the island’s minimum wage should be revised. Laboy was reacting to a piece of legislation that was presented in the House of Representatives earlier this week that aims to increase the minimum wage to $8.25 an hour.

“Right now, regarding this bill, what I recommend is that we look at the reports, that we can have a roundtable, both the government, the private sector and the workers’ representatives,” Laboy said in a radio interview with NotiUno. “If an increase takes place, we have to do it in an orderly fashion and a lot of things should be taken into consideration because the private sector is the one that creates jobs. We want the jobs to be created and for workers to have a fair salary.”

Laboy stressed that in 2017, former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló issued an executive order, creating a committee that included government and private sector components to carry out a study on the topic that was led by the Labor Department.

“Basically, what the report said at that time is that it is important that an increase in the minimum wage is considered, but on the other hand, the economic and fiscal situation must be taken into account, particularly in the private sector, which has been going through difficult situations since 2006,” the official added.

The official also said the report recommended that reducing the cost of doing business in Puerto Rico be considered, as well as the cost of energy and making the permits process more agile.

On Monday, New Progressive Party Rep. Joel Franqui Atiles introduced House Bill 2264, which seeks to increase the minimum wage to $8.25 an hour. The measure would automatically take effect 12 months after the bill is approved.

The bill provides for the creation of an Interdisciplinary Committee that would issue an annual report to review the economic conditions of industries on the island. The committee would be made up by University of Puerto Rico professors and economists.

— CyberNews contributed to this report.

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