The idea is that the government partially compensate businesses for the differential between what they pay their workers now and what they will have to pay after the new minimum kicks in. The FTI wants this programme to be implemented over three years, and that it be funded by delaying the planned reduction in corporate income tax.
Under the FTI plan, next year the government would compensate 75 per cent of the differential between the old and new wage rates, 50 per cent in 2014 and 25 per cent in 2015. For instance, if now an SME pays its labourers Bt100 a day, the differential would be Bt200, so the government should compensate about Bt150 initially. The fund is projected to have initial capital of Bt50 billion, Sommat Khunset, secretary-general of the FTI, said yesterday.However, the garment sector insists that the assistance measure should focus on aiding SMEs in the 70 provinces that will be directly affected by the wage increase in January.
Sommat said that among the Labour Ministry's 27 assistance measures for SMEs, the fund would be the best. SMEs also want soft loans for working capital. These should have relaxed conditions to allow SMEs to access them.
FTI vice chairman Thanit Sorat said the phased compensation system was the best possible way to help SMEs cope with the higher wage. The federation will also encourage both the government and private sector to share the responsibility on dealing with the wage increase.
The plan will soon be proposed for approval from the Joint Private Committee.