The new five dollar minimum wage went into effect on January first and this week, businesses are making adjustments for their first revised payroll under the new regime. For many companies it's causing across the board cost increases, from wages to the cost of security services and goods, as the increase in the minimum wage creates a ripple effect in cost increases across the economy.

For the PUP government, the new minimum wage means delivering in concrete terms on a manifesto promise, but the Chamber of Commerce Industry says it's too much, too fast; they had lobbied for a phased increase. And that's why many businesses are passing on the costs to consumers.

Well, the Prime Minister isn't happy about that; he said 30,000 working Belizeans will benefit - and the businesses who are increasing costs should be called out:

John Briceno, Prime Minister
"It is unfortunate that those businesses that are doing that and I think they should be called out. For us to be able to raise the minimum wage to $5 is the least we can do for our poorest of the poor, our poor people. For you to try to live with $2 or $2.35 an hour, I think it's disgraceful and as a country, we need to do better. And that is why we have raised the minimum wage to $5 across the board. When you look at them, it's going to affect, I think it's 30,000 people that are going to get an increase in salaries and they are going to be earning more money so that's more money that's going to be turned over in the economy and these same businesses are going to be able to have more business so they will also benefit indirectly."

Courtney Menzies:
"If they're cutting hours and cutting staff then it kinda..."

John Briceno, Prime Minister
"That's why I'm saying that we should call out those people because then they are taking advantage of people, that's not the intention and I'm sure that they pretty soon will realize that they will have to call them back because they will not be able to provide the level of services that their customers demand and so because, if you are giving me bad service because you don't want to pay $5 an hour, I'm going to go somewhere else where I'm going to get the necessary service, it is something that's necessary and the majority of the businesses, whenever we talk to them, most of them were already paying more than $5 an hour. We have over 100,000 workers in this country and it's only 30,000 of them. And even in agriculture, in sugar, people are already paying more than $5 an hour because they pay based on the work that they are doing. We need to encourage the private sector to work with us to help these people, you can't live on $2.30 an hour."

Small fact check: the previous minimum wage was three dollars and thirty cents an hour, not two dollars and thirty cents.

Channel 7