FTI calls for power bills to be suspended

FTI calls for power bills to be suspended

Move will aid those hit by coronavirus

Residents and small businesses in the capital face higher electricity bills during the coronavirus outbreak. Patipat Janthong
Residents and small businesses in the capital face higher electricity bills during the coronavirus outbreak. Patipat Janthong

The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) is calling on the government to suspend electricity payments for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and households for four months, charging at cost for power in order to provide relief for businesses suffering from the Covid-19 crisis.

FTI chairman Supant Mongkolsuthree said the government should also reduce electricity bills by 5% in the country, while the fuel tariff should be calculated based on global oil prices, which have dropped significantly in recent months.

"The cost of energy is very high for businesses, while the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a tremendous financial toll. Many companies cannot pay their electricity bills without risking shutting down," he said.

The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand currently charges at a progressive rate, meaning the more electricity a person uses, the more they will be charged per watt. Those working from home are seeing large spikes in their electricity bills.

The FTI had a meeting on Monday with businesses and government agencies as well as the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the National Economic and Social Development Council to discuss additional relief measures.

The FTI expects the government will approve the recommended measures to help businesses as soon as possible.

It is also seeking relief for migrant workers by extending expiring work permits by six months as many borders are closed and workers cannot return.

The FTI suggests a fund be set up to support tourism and the hotel sector under a private equity trust controlled by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"Many hotels are on the verge of going bankrupt because of the Covid-19 outbreak, and if the government won't help, they will shut down completely and workers will lose their jobs," said Mr Supant.

The group proposes allowing the minimum wage to be paid by the hour at 40-41 baht per hour, instead of a required 325 baht per day for eight hours of work.

The government should also add provisions to the Social Security Act to allow the state to pay 50% of employee wages and companies 25% for those earning below 15,000 baht a month for active SMEs affected by Covid-19.


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