On the topic of the Minimum Wage Taskforce, you heard Prime Minister John Briceno say yesterday that his government is hoping to raise the minimum wage by the end of the year.

It was another of his party's general election promises from 2020, but the Belize Business Bureau is basically saying, "Don't wait; implement the wage increase now."

It's different from their sister organization, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which continues to call for a phased-in approach. But, as viewers are aware, both organizations share the same Senate Representative in the Upper House Chamber. So, at midday, we got a chance to ask the President of the Belize Business Bureau about the divergent view on minimum wage. Here's what he had to say:

Arturo Lizarraga - President, Belize Business Bureau
"There is an extreme amount of poverty where kids are sleeping more hours than normal because there is only 1 plate of dinner on the table. People are borrowing just to eat, and I believe that the Prime Minister should take the opportunity to institute the $5 minimum wage immediately in all sectors, perhaps except agriculture, and agriculture should be phased in at least two years, but no more than two years. If you give people that $5, they'll spend it and they'll spend it on food. And so that gives a new dynamic to the economy. It allows the government to collect more taxes. It allows people an opportunity to deal with inflation because inflation is not just fuel. Inflation is the supply chain."

"I'm surprised that you take you've taken this view to quickly implement the $5 minimum wage for two reasons. One: the other business group, the Chamber of Commerce, has long advocated for a phased approach. And the second argument that I put to you is the fact that by the time we do implement the $5 minimum wage, it simply might not be enough. How do we square that off?"

Arturo Lizarraga
"Very easy, Fat belly is telling hungry belly to wait, and that can't continue. Anybody who has their bread on the table, their air conditioning, and near their car nicely filled up with gas, is telling the rest was hungry outside looking in, wait, we can take care of you, and we can't sustain that. Let us give the people their $5 and let us give it to them now. We can't wait because, by the time we wait, we ease all the value. People will lose their homes. They're borrowing to eat. Soon, they'll have to sell the house just to eat. Or they might have to give up education just to eat. So we can't afford that; our people need a break."

Channel 7