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Statement from the Guam Chamber of Commerce on the passage of Bill 136-35

October 7, 2019

HAGÅTÑA, GUAM - The Guam Chamber of Commerce expresses its disappointment with the 35th Guam Legislature in the passage of Bill 136-35, which will increase the minimum wage starting in 2020. While there is some consolation in allowing for a favorable timeline for the phasing in of the initial increase, this legislature continues to fail in addressing the concerns of the community, particularly when it comes to the cost of living and the cost of conducting business on Guam. It is very easy for senators to speak with emotion while passing a politically popular measure, yet the majority has failed to embark on issues such as higher taxes being passed to the working class, a refusal to reduce government spending and turning a blind eye towards making the island a business friendly environment.

Wage increases are good, not only for the employee who has earned the increase, but also for the economy. However, the dangers of the government arbitrarily increasing the minimum wage by legislation has a number of critical consequences, such as increased costs in operational expenses which will be passed to the consumer. While many large businesses may be able to sustain such an increase, the cornerstone of our economic prosperity lies within our small businesses, who will be the ones greatly affected by the passage of Bill 136-35 into law.

Senators can help the economy by looking at reducing the Business Privilege Tax (BPT) from 5% to 4%, repealing Public Law 35-1, which impacts the leases for many small businesses, and focusing on a true reorganization of the Government of Guam, which would result in real savings. This is just a start. Providing proud speeches about the passage of this legislation will lack true conviction, if it is not accompanied by action on addressing the real problems with this Government. It’s time for senators to listen to the community.