Independent Member of the Legislative Assembly Ezzard Miller intends to put the issue of minimum wage before the government as one of three motions he hopes to present when the Assembly resumes.
This will be Mr. Miller’s fourth attempt to get the government to vote on introducing a $5 an hour minimum wage to Cayman.
“My first motion is the perennial problem with minimum wage. I’m bringing that back again. Hopefully, I have got it in a sensible form this time and the government will have to vote yea or nay,” said Mr. Miller.
In February, the North Side MLA attempted to bring a committee stage amendment on minimum wage during a debate on changes in the Labour Law relating to a cap on severance pay, but Speaker of the House Mary Lawrence, who had initially allowed the motion, eventually ruled it should be withdrawn. Government members argued that Mr. Miller’s motion was not relevant to the debate.
In a press briefing during a break in that debate in February, Premier McKeeva Bush said the government planned to introduce minimum wage legislation by June.
Mr. Miller also brought similar motions on minimum wage during amendments to the Penal Code and the Immigration Law. Each time, his motion was voted down.
The North Side MLA also intends to bring a motion asking the government to reduce import duty on gasoline and diesel by 50 cents per gallon.
Gas prices at local petrol stations have leaped in recent weeks, edging toward $6 per gallon in some places.
In last year’s budget, the government added an additional 25 cents import duty on petrol and diesel, bringing the duty tax up to 75 cents and 85 cents per gallon, respectively.
“The people in my constituency are the biggest sufferers under that government tax.
We drive the farthest,” said Mr. Miller.
The North Side representative’s third motion requests the government to reduce import duty on medicines and medical supplies to zero.
Under the Customs Tariff Law, a 12 per cent import duty is currently levied on medical and pharmaceutical goods.
Referring to a proposed medical tourism hospital project by Indian cardiologist Dr. Devi Shetty, Mr. Miller said: “If we can give duty concessions to an investor who projects to make $4.5 billion in 10 years, we should be able to do something for Caymanians who are on fixed incomes and who won’t have enough in their retirement packages for medication.
Why shouldn’t they get it at a reduced price?”
The Legislative Assembly is scheduled to resume on 17 May with the state opening and budget meeting of the 2011/12 session.