By Petchanet Pratruangkrai
The private sector has voiced alarm over the government's policies to cushion the blow from nationwide adoption of the Bt300 minimum daily wage next year, saying the move would only create a burden and dampen growth.
“Although the government has launched 27 measures to relieve the impact of the wage hike, most are inefficient in implementation and will not help most businesses, which are small and medium-sized enterprises,” Bhumindr Harinsuit, vice chairman of the chamber, said last week.
Most enterprises now see only moderate growth for the economy next year, at 4.1-4.5 per cent.
In a survey at the 30th annual meeting of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, business leaders said the government should reconsider the increase in the minimum wage next year, as the repercussions would be more serious than thought.
The wage hike could lead to investment relocating to other regions and countries as well as to businesses going bankrupt, the laying off of workers and weak economic growth.
To increase efficiency in the government’s launch of policies and increase understanding by the private sector, the Joint Standing Private Committee will today call for an urgent meeting to discuss the Bt300 wage issue, so it can propose a resolution to the government.
Bhumindr said the government should work closely with the private sector to ensure that any policies it announces won’t create problems in the future.
Saowanee Thairungroj, president of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the government should limit its populist policies as much as possible as they would not promote national growth in the long run.
“Populist policies, including the wage hike, the pledging scheme and farm subsidies, and the [corporate] tax reduction, will lead to high public debt and push the country into a financial crisis like in Western countries. The government should reconsider some of it policies and try to employ populist policies in only the short term,” he said.
Based on its survey of 450 businesses nationwide, the private sector was also deeply worried about other three factors that could throttle growth next year – political instability, natural disasters and the global economic slowdown.
Thanavath Phonvichai, director of the university’s Economic and Business Forecasting Centre, said the government should prioritise its tasks to solve those problems.
The government should increase efficiency in spending Bt350-billion for water management and prevention, stabilise politics and promote export and tourism, he said.
The survey also found that the gathering next weekend of political groups in an anti-government rally could be prolonged and stifle the country’s growth next year.
The poll also showed that 61 per cent of businesses believe that US President Barack Obama’s visit to Thailand was a positive for the country, while 30 per cent were not confident that it would benefit the country.
Most businesses believe his visit will improve the country’s international image, promote trade and investment between two countries and give a boost to tourism. However, enterprises want the government to study clearly possible positive and negative impacts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership before Thailand makes a decision on whether to join the pact.