Higher minimum wage a blow to Thai SMEs


BANGKOK, Nov 13 – Thailand’s enforcement of the new Bt300 daily minimum wage since April has taken its toll on Thailand’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) after more than 100 companies have closed, a businessman said today.

Jirabool Vithayasingh, secretary general of the Thai Lifestyle Products Federation (TLPF), said the country’s 3,000 SMEs have had to bear a higher financial burden by 40 per cent after the wage increase.

Combined with higher raw materials and transportation costs, the SME capital overhead has increased by 50 per cent, he said.

He predicted more SMEs will close when another round of minimum wage increase is implemented on Jan 1, indicating that over 100 SMEs are currently on a tightrope.

Mr Jirabool called on the government to improve the quality of Thai labour and allow SME operators’ accessibility to financial sources so that they can carry on their businesses.

“We do not disagree with the Bt300 daily minimum wage but we want the government to review assistance measures to SMEs,” he said.

He said that the export of lifestyle products will reach Bt 90 billion this year, representing a 3 per cent increase year-on-year but “it’s a growth with less profit.”

Despite a 10 per cent decrease in the first nine months of this, the US remains Thailand’s major market, followed by Japan which sees a 12 per cent increase and Eurozone on the minus side due to the debt crisis.

Thailand’s exports of lifestyle products has enjoyed growth in new markets like China, India, the Middle East and Southeast Asia—the latter increasing by 30 per cent.

He predicted a 5-8 per cent export growth, or a total value of over Bt90 billion, for lifestyle products next year.