Private sector asks government to hold off minimum wage hike


BANGKOK, Nov 16 – Thailand’s private sector today called on the government to delay implementation of the Bt300 daily minimum wage nationwide, originally scheduled for Jan 1 next year, by two years to 2015, warning that otherwise the majority of country’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will be forced out of business.

Sommat Khunset, secretary general of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), said 90 per cent of SME operators, especially labour-intensive businesses, have expressed concern about the Bt300 minimum wage which they say will double their production overhead.

Citing the northern province of Payao where the daily minimum wage is Bt159, he said that with a sharp increase to Bt300 it will be impossible for operators to survive.

He said the government should announce assistance measures for operators affected by the minimum wage increase so that they can carry on their businesses, adding that business operators should be granted low-interest loans while loan-seeking conditions are more lenient.

Another measure is a compensation scheme in which the government absorbs 75 per cent of the wage increase in the first year, 50 per cent in the second year and 25 per cent in the third year while the private sector pays 25, 50 and 75 per cent of the increase amount in the first to third year.

He said additional assistance measures will be discussed Monday before submitting a proposal to the government for its consideration.