Wage hike not expected to hurt foreign investor interest in PHL

A WAGE hike is not expected to reduce the appeal of the Philippines to foreign investors, the British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (BCCP) said.

BCCP Executive Director and Trustee Christopher James Nelson said by phone that wage hikes will not necessarily mean the loss of foreign investors, contrary to the fears of other employers.

“It’s not the only factor… investors will also look at (other factors). There’s no single factor that will lead investors to say, ‘Okay, wages have gone up, that means I go somewhere else.’ It is a combination of factors,” he added.

The Philippine mechanism for raising minimum wages is via rulings issued by regional wage boards, which cannot hear wage hike appeals until the anniversary of the last ruling.

Mr. Nelson said the peso’s prolonged weakness and agriculture-related legislation would be the developments British investors are focused on.

He added that the Philippines remains attractive to foreign investors due to the recent executive orders of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., specifically the one cutting tariffs on imported rice.

“It’s those actions could have a greater impact (on foreign investors) because what drove inflation, particularly, is the cost of rice and meat products and foodstuffs,” he said.

He said regional boards should decide on wage hikes instead of Congress legislating higher wages.

“We were happy to see that they’ve gone back to the wage boards. That was how, in the Philippines, it has been previously done. That’s important as opposed to having a mandated increase from Congress,” he added.

An economist and some employers last week said a wage increase would drive away foreign investors, and turn to neighbors Vietnam and Cambodia.

Labor groups have said a skilled workforce is also an important factor for attracting foreign investors, though they need to be paid fairly.

The wage board for Metro Mania concluded a public hearing on wage hikes on Thursday, discussing petitions ranging from P100 to P750 from various labor groups. It is currently reviewing the proposals.

It is set to release its decision on or before July 20, the anniversary of the last wage order in the National Capital Region (NCR).

The daily minimum wage in the NCR is P610 for non-agriculture workers and P573 for agricultural workers, retailers with 15 workers or less, and manufacturing firms regularly employing fewer than 10 workers. — Chloe Mari A. Hufana