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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs           19   August  2011

Proposed Thai wage hike may be optional

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The government's plan to raise the minimum wage to 300 baht (US$10) a day nationwide took a new twist yesterday when Deputy Prime Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong hinted it would not be mandatory for businesses.

"The hike will not be a compulsory measure, but the government needs to accelerate working out measures to help the private sector reduce production costs such as interest rates, corporate income taxes and human resource development," said Mr Kittiratt.

In any case, he said, the government would take the lead by raising the wage for workers at state agencies and enterprises.

Mr. Kittiratt held informal talks on the issue yesterday with the joint standing committee on commerce, industry and banking. He was joined by Finance Minister Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala and Labour Minister Padermchai Sasomsap.

Nonetheless, Payungsak Chartsutthipol, the chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), reiterated hopes that the government would gradually raise the minimum wage to 300 baht over three years and not do so all at once.

"Actually, business operators want a four-year period, but I think three is appropriate to have everything in place," he said, adding that the decision on the wage hike should rest with the tripartite committee, consisting of civil servants, businesspeople and labour representatives, to better reflect the market mechanism.

Mr. Payungsak earlier had said that an immediate increase would cause the private sector to bear the burden of up to 100 billion baht in the first year on a 40-80 percent increase in costs, with low-margin, labour-intensive companies hit first.

More than 10 industries would feel a major impact, including the garment, textile, processed food, agriculture, furniture and shoe industries, though Mr. Payungsak said the FTI has yet to perform a deep analysis of the effects on each industry to present to the government.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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