Sontirat cools firms' wage hike fears

Sontirat cools firms' wage hike fears

Energy minister says campaign promise is not an urgent priority for his party

Energy Minister Sontirat.
Energy Minister Sontirat.

Businesses should not panic about a hike in the daily minimum wage, from 300 baht to 400-425 baht, because it is not an urgent priority for the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), says Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong.

"Any wage hike requires many discussions with relevant stakeholders," said Mr Sontirat, also a secretary-general of the PPRP. "A wage hike from 308-330 baht to 400-425 baht was one of the campaign promises of the PPRP during the general election, but this policy will happen over four years, equal to the term of a government."

He said the government wants to support small companies and startups that have struggled, with a wage hike on the back burner.

"Increasing the volume of skilled labourers and encouraging further investment from the private sector are the government's top priorities," Mr Sontirat said.

He said all economic ministries are finalising their stimulus measures to deliver the plan to parliament on July 25.

The Energy Ministry is considering maintaining the development of biodiesel B10 and B20 because crude palm oil is expected to have a surplus volume again this year, similar to conditions in 2017 and 2018.

Keeping a high content of methyl ester from crude palm oil in biodiesel helps absorb the surplus production.

Mr Sontirat said the ministry will soon gather officials from all energy agencies and state enterprises to consult about new energy measures.

An official from the Energy Ministry who requested anonymity said new investment in the power sector under this government will come from waste-to-energy projects, with a combined power generation of 400 megawatts.

These projects are being considered, with the Energy Regulatory Commission and Interior Ministry to grant licences for production.

The official said the ministry also expects the development of two large power plants, one a 1,400MW gas-fired plant for which Ratch Group Plc won a licence.

The other is the 540MW coal-fired plant of Advance Agro, a large pulp and paper maker, that has been delayed for 12 years.

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