Federal Information Minister Pervez Rasheed did not confirm whether the PML-N government would announce any increase in minimum wages in its first budget.
“The government is already running a huge deficit of Rs 2,000 billion in the budget and it does not seem possible to make any progress towards fulfilling of the promise this year. But they plan to materialize it in the coming years,” Rasheed said.
He also told Truth Tracker that even the Finance Ministry had yet to come up with any tangible plan in that regard. “Pakistan’s economy is already in shambles”, he said, adding that industry is in bad shape and falling short of meeting its export targets due to the energy crisis.
“Our plan is to overcome the energy problem first because it will ultimately lead to the resolution of other issues and fulfilling our promises”, he added.
Pakistan joined the International Labour Organisation (ILO) when it was still part of India right after its independence in 1947.
However, despite its early entry into the organization, the country has failed to implement even its most basic and fundamental guidelines.
One such issue is the implementation of minimum wages. Most of the labour class in Pakistan is daily wage earners. The current minimum wage is Rs 9,000.
The first budget of newly elected government was unveiled on June 12 without any proposed minimum wages increase. However, the government will present four more budgets, therefore we rate this promise as not yet started. Truth Tracker will watch government actions on this.
Former finance minister Salman Shah is of the view that the government does not have any resources to do anything in this regard. He told Truth Tracker over the phone that PML-N’s promise to increase the minimum wages was not in conformity with the economic reality.
“Its more of a political gimmick which has nothing to do with the execution, such statements are made in the manifestos only to make them more appealing”, he said.
Elaborating his viewpoint, Shah said that the private sector would not allow the government to materialize any plan, if it (the government) has any. “There are already a lot of restrictions and regulations on the private sector and with the crippling economy and energy crisis, the government cannot afford to burden the private sector further,” he stated.
Vice President Lahore Chamber of Commerce Mian Abuzar endorsed Salman Shah’s viewpoint and categorically rejected PML-N’s idea of raising the minimum wages to Rs 15, 000.
“That’s absolutely not possible for the industrial sector to raise the wages to that level, as it will increase the production costs as well, therefore it’s not possible for us to follow the government policy, if any, formulated in this connection”, he said.
Speaking to the Truth Tracker, Qaiser Bangali, an independent economist, said “a manifesto is usually a five year agenda of any political party which comes to power and it can’t be implemented in one or two years”.
On the PML-N promise to raise the minimum wages to 15,000, he doesn’t foresee any prominent development in this regard. “Most of the labour is hired on a contract basis by the private sector and the collective bargaining system has been weakened over the last 30 years,” Bangali said.
Truth Tracker has determined that no progress towards fulfilling the promise has been made as yet as the plan has not yet started.