Minimum effort on the minimum wage

Hello all, I hope you exerted little to no effort in enjoying your weekend.  We are into the new week, best wishes to all.

Don’t like the hike

I remember reading a press statement from our national fuel company, PetroCorps or Vital Energy, earlier in the year mentioning price increases.  In fact, three increases were mentioned.  Their first press release of the year stated:

“While we are able to cushion consumers from short term price spikes, there have been month-on-month increases in the cost of importing fuel products since April 2017. Pump prices in Pohnpei remain at $3.75/gallon, making us lower than Guam’s price by at least $0.40/gallon. It is only a matter of time before we will have to pass on increases to the domestic market,” says CEO Mr. Jared Morris.

The third and final fuel increase is expected to come on the 20th of this month.  A recent press release last week stated:

“Simply put, FSMPC is just no longer able to offset the growing fuel costs,” stated FSMPC Chairman Mr. Faustino Yangmog. “Pump prices in the FSM are still as low as $4.00 per gallon of gasoline, which is the current price in Kosrae. The current pump price in Guam is $0.52 per gallon more than that in Kosrae, and $0.27 more per gallon than in Pohnpei. Although this is great for FSM motorists and looks great for the corporation, it isn’t realistic for us to continue absorbing rising fuel costs. We’ve held off price increases as long as viably practical, and now must pass some of these costs on to the domestic market.

Well, I guess we should thank you?  It’s not your fault.  I understand.  You even prepped us at the beginning of the year to let us know of these increases.  For that, I would like to say thank you to the communications or public relations team at Vital for keeping your customers informed.  Other government agencies, please follow suit 🙂

But what can we do in the FSM to counter these “growing fuel costs” that are out of our control?

Past effort

Well, in this blogger/citizen/fuel consumer’s point of view, something can be done.  You may have guessed by the title.  Yes, an increase in minimum wage.

The last minimum wage increase in Pohnpei was in 2011 bringing it to the current amount of $1.75.  That was seven years ago.  It is time for another increase, right?  I mean, the cost of living has not stayed the same as 2011.  Definitely not the price of fuel.  The bill that increased the minimum wage also included this:

The bill also adds a requirement that “the Chief” (Chief of the Division of Personnel, Labor and Manpower Development) conduct “necessary and appropriate studies of the minimum wage,” every three years and at every additional time when he considers an amendment to the existing rate to be appropriate. The Chief would submit recommendations to the Governor for review, approval and further transmittal to the Legislature for its consideration.

“In developing recommended amendments to the minimum wage rate, the Chief shall give consideration to:

1) The minimum standard of living which is compatible with decency and health;

2) The general economic conditions of the state;

3) The compensation practices and conditions of appropriate labor markets;

4) The conditions of employment in Pohnpei; and

5) Such other matters as the Chief may deem appropriate.”

I can’t say with any authority what  1 – 5 is.  But, let’s at least take a look?  Maybe even an increase to $2.00, which was what some of the legislators wanted back in 2011 on the bill.

Current effort

Now, there is some hope out there.  But only for national government employees.  Last month, Pohnpei Election District One, Senator Ferny Perman, introduced C.B. No. 20-246:

To award a seven percent (7%) increase in the annual salary for all full-time employees of the Federated States of Micronesia’s National Government Public Service System who have been employed for more than 4 years, and for other purposes.

I don’t know where this bill stands as of today.  I will surely find out.  If you know, please share in the comments.  A seven percent increase is an increase, am I right?

Regional effort

What’s the rush? First, it’s been seven years for Pohnpei (just Pohnpei) since a minimum wage increase from $1.35 to $1.75 where it stands today.  Gasoline is at $4.25 per gallon.  That’s part of the rush.

Also, there has been another bill ( I know… so many bills, but no dollar bills) introduced in Guam, that can further increase fuel prices in the region:

Sen. Telena C. Nelson’s Bill 257-34, co-authored by Sens. Thomas C. Ada and Dennis G. Rodriguez Jr., aims to eliminate tax exemptions on transshipped fuel that goes through the port of Guam.

We have been blessed to have a tax exemption of all fuel that is shipped through Guam to the CNMI, FSM, Palau and RMI for the past three decades.  Now, Bill 257-34 wants to change that.  They want to start taxing fuel that has to be shipped through them to realize an estimated $4.5 million in revenue per year for the people of Guam.  It is estimated that approximately 30 million gallons of fuel pass through Guam every year before reaching us.

This is the second time the Guam Legislature has attempted this.  I understand they are doing what is best for their people.  No fault there.  Let’s hope our leaders are also looking out for us.

Thank heavens for Sen. Ivan Blanco from the CNMI, who is also part Chuukese, who has been spearheading efforts to stop this from going through:

“While I respect the bill’s intent to raise critically needed funding for public services to benefit the people of Guam and for safety at the Guam port, the $4.5 million estimated to be realized through imposing this transshipment tax will be minimal compared to the far reaching and deep ramifications on the economies of the CNMI, FSM, RMI, and Palau,” said Blanco.

Thank you Pwipwi.  Please keep up the good work and I hope you get re-elected.  It’s good to see the regional involvement and effort for local economies.

I will continue to monitor the bill’s passing into law or not, and share it here or on other social media platforms.

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Thanks for stopping by.  I really appreciate it.  I hope you have a great week.

See you on the next blog post.

 

 

Author: patpedrus

I am here, you are there, we are one.

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