Maldives fixes minimum wages but excludes expatriate workers

The Maldives after years of delay has finally announced regulations, setting minimum wages--starting from around $258/ month--for workers engaged in small, medium, and large industries operating in the country

Nov 08, 2021
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Maldives fixes minimum wages but excludes expatriate workers

The Maldives after years of delay has finally announced regulations, setting minimum wages--starting from around $258/ month--for workers engaged in small, medium, and large industries operating in the country. The wage regulations announced on Monday, however, will not be applicable to expatriate workers, most of which are from Bangladesh. 

The minimum wage for the workers engaged in small industries is fixed at MVR 4500 (~$258) per month; $451 for those engaged in medium businesses, and $516 for high industries. Maldives Economic Minister Ismail Fayyaj signed the declaration months after the Wage and Salary Board presented its recommendations to the government in October last year. 

The government, however, decided to change the wages a bit to what was originally recommended by the board, considering prevailing economic factors and concerns by industries, said Ismail as reported by Sun news. 

The delay in announcing the recommendations happened because of the uncertain economic situation caused by the pandemic. The archipelago’s economy shrank by almost 30 percent last year. That the government has managed to declare it now, said Ismail, is itself an achievement. 

“I believe the minimum wage rates declared today are good, given the current situation. I believe these are reasonable rates which will bring about positive changes to employees and benefit businesses in the long run,” Ismail was quoted as saying by Sun news. 
 
He further added that the economy is far from reaching the pre-pandemic level, and would probably take around two more years. 
 
It was in 2012, during the time of the former president Mohammed Nashid when the Maldives started working on establishing the minimum wages regime. However, the successive governments and then pandemic affected the progress on the issue. 

Importantly, the Maldives has around 150,000 foreign workers--most of them are Bangladeshis. The new regulations excluded these foreign workers--a move Economic Minister Ismail defended, saying the economy wasn’t strong enough to include them.  

“They are paid $90 in Bangladesh but are paid approximately $180, $200 or $250 here,” he said on Bangladeshi workers, adding further, “Because they are paid a higher wage than the minimum wage, regardless of what the working conditions maybe.”

The archipelago also has a huge number of undocumented Bangladeshi workers residing there--official figures put the numbers around 62,000; Of them, 20,000 have already been deported back to Bangladesh. 

(SAM)

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