MANILA - Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has ordered regional wage boards to "speed up" the review of minimum wages as fuel prices rise, the Department of Labor said on Wednesday.
DOLE said the Labor chief noted that the spike in oil prices caused by the Ukraine crisis "maybe a compelling ground for the wage boards to recommend adjustments in the minimum wages of workers."
"The current daily minimum wage in the National Capital Region (NCR), for instance, of P537 may no longer cope with the price of basic commodities such as food, electricity and water bills," DOLE said.
DOLE said the wage boards, along with other government agencies, employers and labor groups "provide recommendations for the adjustment of minimum wages all over the country."
“Minimum wage cannot be very low as it will have [a] very small effect in protecting workers and their families against poverty. If set too high, it will have an adverse employment effect. There should be a balance between two sets of considerations,” Bello said.
He noted that one petition for wage adjustment called for a uniform increase of P750 in the minimum wage nationwide. The labor chief meanwhile expressed confidence that the wage boards will submit their recommendations before the end of April.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas earlier said that inflation could rise above 4 percent if crude oil prices average higher than $95 per barrel in 2022 and 2023.
"But the oil price scenarios considered only the direct effects and do not incorporate any potential second-round effects on transport fares, food prices, and wages among others," the BSP said.
The central bank added that a worst-case scenario of oil prices reaching $120-140 per barrel would push inflation up to between 4.4 - 4.7 percent.