FTI ramps up help for small firms
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FTI ramps up help for small firms

The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) is increasing its efforts to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), especially micro-SMEs, as they try to cope with the financial burden of interest rate hikes and a higher minimum wage.

The Bank of Thailand's Monetary Policy Committee decided on Sept 28 to increase its policy rate to 1%, causing commercial banks to follow suit by raising both loan and deposit rates.

Last month the cabinet also approved a new daily minimum wage, ranging from 328 to 354 baht, which took effect from Oct 1.

The higher wages and interest rates will make it more difficult for SMEs and micro-SMEs to manage their costs, according to the FTI.

It comes as SMEs are still struggling to cope with high energy costs, said Apichit Prasoprat, vice-chairman of the FTI and chairman of the Small & Medium Industrial Institute.

"We cannot wait for the government's help. We need to act now to help SMEs, no matter whether they are our members or not," he said.

More than 14,000 companies are currently members of the FTI, with SMEs making up around 80% of them.

Mr Apichit said micro-SMEs need technical help to better manage their accounts, which would give their businesses more credibility.

The FTI also wants them to gain better access to loans from financial institutions.

"Micro-SMEs are currently weak," he said.

"We are concerned that they cannot keep running their businesses amid negative factors that keep increasing their operational costs."

The federation is urging SMEs to use energy wisely in order to reduce costs.

"Many SMEs cannot afford to pay high electricity bills while prices of raw materials are expensive and daily minimum wages are high," said Mr Apichit.

The FTI is also looking to help successful SMEs with a strong business performance expand even further by raising funds on the stock market, he said.

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