Presidential Advisor Dares Museveni On Minimum Wage

nurse geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>This, side effects he said, was now vividly manifested in government’s reluctance to adopt minimum wage legislation.

“Workers’ wellbeing and profitability for investors are both imperative for the country, and it its dangerous to prefer one over the other,” noted the former Finance Minister, during a dialogue on minimum wage organized by Friedrich Erbert Stiftung in Kampala on Tuesday.

Uganda’s minimum wage currently stands at sh6,000 according to a legislation passed during Obote’s military government in 1984.

President Yoweri Museveni, Ministry of Gender and Labor, and others opposed to the minimum wage have in the past argued that this was likely to exacerbate the country’s unemployment levels as employers would prefer hiring fewer workers.

They have also premised their stance on the likelihood of the minimum wage affecting small scale businesses, which may not be able to pay their workers up to sh250,000 which is being suggested by the new minimum wage bill that still languishes in parliament.


All these however are unfounded arguments, according to Prof Suruma. “Advocating for a ‘living wage’ is not anti-investment,” he said, adding, “90 percent of the world’s economies today have laws on minimum wage; in fact all countries with the least rates of unemployment have these laws in place including Britain and the US.”

“On the other hand, Uganda, which doesn’t have a minimum wage, has got one of the worst unemployment figures in the world especially among the youths.”

Describing minimum wage as a human right every Uganda is entitled to, Suruma added: “Even the old slave masters during the times of the Iron law of wages, recognized that there was a level below which human workers must not go. That’s why they always ensured that their slaves were well fed and remained in good shape, for only then would they be able to produce more,” he said.

“The debate therefore should not be on whether or not Uganda needs a minimum wage; it should be how much this should be,” he added.

Suruma is well known for not mincing his words.

His liberal views are likely to shape debate in the public domain on government’s refusal to adopt and implement the proposed legislation seeking a minimum wage in Uganda.


Suruma further argued that the absence of such laws was the reason for Uganda’s escalating levels of corruption, robberies and fraud.

Naturally when man earns less than his work in put, he will devise other means of making ends meet.

He added: “Our workplaces today have become more of ‘sweatshops’ because workers have no bargaining power. There must be some state intervention. Our government cannot stand by in such and labor market; otherwise it is the economy that will be hurt.”

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