By Shermain Bique-Charles
After staging several meetings and discussions in recent months, the National Minimum Wage Advisory Committee met for its last engagement on Friday.
The committee, which was established in February, includes members from the Employers Federation, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Hotels and Tourism Association, among others.
They have been discussing a potential increase in the current minimum wage which stands at $8.20 per hour.
According to reliable sources, the deliberations went well and there is every likelihood that a final report will be forthcoming within months.
The committee will make certain recommendations to Labour Minister, Steadroy Benjamin, before a decision on the long-awaited increase is made.
Along with advice on the national minimum wage, the committee is also reportedly considering varying minimum wage structures for different categories of workers, such as those in hospitality or construction, instead of having a flat minimum wage across the board.
Despite claims from some that the move to establish the committee is politically motivated as the country gears up for general elections, the government insisted that the main reason behind the largely welcomed step is due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a huge spike in the cost of living.
In 1998, the minimum wage in Antigua and Barbuda went up to $5.75 per hour from its previous $4.60, and in 2002 it was raised to $6 per hour. In 2006, it increased to $6.75 and in 2008 to $7.50, before its most recent increase to $8.20 in 2015.