By Genalyn Kabiling
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is amenable to a “minimal” regional wage increase to give consolation to workers affected by high inflation.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, however, warned that any proposed nationwide wage hike or adjustment that is “more than necessary” was “dangerous” since it might only drive up consumer prices.
“There can be consideration because of the inflation so if you ask me, there can be a minimal adjustment but that should not be more than what is necessary. That’s the point because you will really create a strong pressure on inflation,” Lopez said during a Palace press briefing.
“The reality is that hindi lahat wage earners. Kapag nag-increase tayo dyan, tataas ang cost. Kapag tumaas ang cost baka ito rin ang magtulak ng presyo, tumaas ang presyo ng bilihin and of course tatamaan ang buong sambayanan hindi lang ang wage earners [The reality is not everyone is a wage earner. If we implement an increase, the costs will rise. Once the costs increase, it will drive up consumer prices and of course, the entire nation, not only wage earners, will be affected]. Those who did not benefit from wage hike will also get affected,” he added.
Lopez, however, said it was still up to the regional wage boards to determine if there is a need to adjust the minimum wage depending on the economic condition of each region. He stressed that there should be no wage hike if there was no inflationary impact in a region.
“Kung mayroon naramdaman na inflation ng bawat region, that can be a basis for adjustment just to give consolation doon sa affected parties [If there is inflation felt in the regions, that can be a basis for adjustment just to give consolation to affected parties],” Lopez said.
“Pero kung ako ang tatanungin, sana wala na lang. I’m not against the labor kasi ang mangyayari nga ang tama ang inflation, baka tamaan ang buong sambayanan. Yun lang ang concern natin doon [But if you’ll ask me, I hope there will be none. I’m not against the labor but it might hit inflation and consequently affect the entire nation. That’s our only concern],” he said about a proposed wage hike.
Lopez maintained that peace and order, good governance and friendly business environment were among the factors that could help increase salaries of workers. Given such environment, he said investors would be encouraged to invest or expand businesses that will create more jobs in the country.
“If we are successful in maintaining industrial peace, there’s peace and order, rule of law na pinapaigting ng Pangulo, no corruption, good business environment, investment should come in, create more jobs, ‘yan ang magda-drive up ng wages,” he said.
Last month, the President ordered the Department of Labor and Employment to convene the regional wage boards to determine if there is a need to increase minimum wages of workers.
The President’s order was issued amid government efforts to cushion the impact of soaring consumer prices on the people.