FTI advises Pita to be cautious when hiking minimum daily wages
Move Forward Party leader and PM hopeful Pita Limjaroenrate met top officials of the Federation of Thai Industries on Tuesday morning to discuss the next government’s economic direction.
On the agenda was also his party’s controversial plan to raise the daily minimum wage to 450 baht.
A day after signing a pact with seven partners, Pita met FTI president Kriengkrai Thiennukul, vice president Isares Ratanadilok Na Phuket, and secretary-general Kris Imsang at the federation’s head office.
After the meeting, Pita told reporters that he wanted to listen to the opinions of the private sector during this transitional period. He said he was most interested in hearing FTI’s opinions about his party’s promise to raise the daily minimum wage to 450 baht nationwide.
Pita said Pheu Thai Party, which will become his government’s key partner, supported the wage rise but believes the increase may be a bit too high too soon.
“But this is not the first time that the minimum wage has been raised sharply. This also happened [in 2013] during former PM Yingluck Shinawatra’s government,” Pita said.
While campaigning for votes, Move Forward had promised that his government would increase the daily minimum wage nationwide to 450 baht in the first 100 days of office.
The daily minimum wage currently varies from province to province ranging from 328 baht to 354 baht. These rates were put in place in October last year.
However, Pita said his transitional committee will study the wage hikes introduced in 2013 and base its final decision on the study’s results.
Meanwhile, several private organisations have voiced concern that the enforcement of a high daily minimum wage across the country will reduce Thailand’s competitiveness in the world market.
Pita responded to this by saying the transitional committee will also study the competitiveness of Thai companies.
Some private agencies also proposed that instead of increasing the daily minimum wage for unskilled workers, the government can consider raising the pay for skilled workers under a “pay by skill” principle. To this Pita said his party had a similar policy.
As for raising wages within 100 days as promised, Pita sounded cautious.
“Some policies can be implemented fast, but some measures require more prudence,” he said.
As for whether a new government can be formed by August as hoped by the private sector, Pita said he does not know as it depends entirely on how soon the Election Commission endorses the election results.
Meanwhile, FTI VP Isares told the reporters that Pita had met FTI leaders to build mutual understanding and confidence in the next government.
He said the topics discussed at the meeting covered wages, utility bills, help for small and medium enterprises and amending legislations seen as obstacles to doing business.
“This is a new era in which the leader of a soon-to-be-formed coalition meets the private sector to exchange information,” Isares said.
He added that the FTI had reiterated its stand that the next government apply caution and look at all sides of the coin before making a final decision on wage hikes.
“We are not worried about the hike, but the rate should be acceptable to all sides concerned,” Isares added.