Private firms jittery as nationwide minimum wage hike looms


BANGKOK, Dec 3 – Thailand’s private sector today called on the government to take serious action to alleviate entrepreneurs’ financial burdens after the January 1 nationwide increase of the daily minimum wage to Bt300.

Payungsak Chartsutipol, president of the Federation of Thai Industries, said a meeting of the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industries and Banking (JSCCIB) agreed to submit a seven-point proposal to the government and seek a concrete solution this week—in time to affect next month’s enforcement of the new minimum wage.

According to the FTI committee proposal, the required employer and employee contributions of five per cent of employees’ salary to the Social Welfare Fund should be reduced to three per cent for the next three years; the government should relieve employers’ financial burden from the Bt300 minimum wage by setting up a fund with the government contributing 75 per cent and employers 25 per cent next year, government:employers at 50:50 in 2014, government:employers at 25:75 in 2015 and 100 per cent contribution from employers after that.

The fund is to assist businesses directly affected by the minimum wage increase.

The FTI committee asked the government to reduce the business tax from three per cent to 0.1 per cent , reduce water and electricity fees by 50 per cent for three years, reduce room taxed for hotels and resorts hiring less than 200 employees by 50 per cent for three years, extend the 2013-deadline for a total Bt20 billion loan to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by another three years, and entitle SMEs to seek VAT refund for three years.

Mr Payungsak said  the requested three-year extension period was to enable entrepreneurs to adjust their preparations for the ASEAN Economic Community taking effect in late 2015.