‘Philippines One of the Worst Countries to Live for Minimum Wage Earners’

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is one of the worst countries to live for minimum wage earners, a new report by e-commerce firm Picodi released Tuesday found.

In January 2020, monthly net pay received by minimum wage earners in the Philippines stood at P5,922, 10.2% higher than P5,376 they got in the same month last year.

That placed the Philippines at the 17th spot out of 54 countries tracked by Picodi in terms of rate of increase in minimum wage year-on-year. In comparison, minimum wage jumped 9.1% in Malaysia, 8.7% in Hong Kong and 1.6% in Thailand this month.

However, high food prices are eating up a significant portion of the compensation that minimum wage earners in the Philippines took home. According to Picodi, minimum wage earners in the country spend 75.1% of their monthly salary on basic food items alone.

But the surge in wages outran the increase in prices in the Philippines this year, Picodi said, with basic food products previously accounting for 81.3% of workers’ monthly pay.

The best ratio of food prices to the minimum wage was noted in Australia, followed by the United Kingdom and Ireland. In these countries, workers spend 7% of their monthly pay on essential food products, Picodi reported.

“In some countries, like Nigeria or Uzbekistan, the minimum wage is so low that it does not cover the costs of even the most basic shopping basket,” Picodi said.

“Depending on the country, the minimum wage concerns from few to several dozens percent of the working population. By definition, the minimum wage should protect employees against unduly low earnings,” it added.

In 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law, which lowers personal income taxes while raising excise levies on fuel and “sin” products, among others.

The Department of Finance said the tax reform law allowed workers to receive an additional P111.7 billion in 2018.

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This article first appeared on The Philippine Star.

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