Industry applauds election clarity

Industry applauds election clarity

Companies eye short political vacuum

Gen Prayut poses for a photo with media members at Government House on Monday following the House dissolution. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)
Gen Prayut poses for a photo with media members at Government House on Monday following the House dissolution. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

Thailand's general election is scheduled for May 14, with early ballots cast on May 7, according to a recent statement from the Election Commission.

The announcement comes a day after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha dissolved the lower house of parliament, a formal step before calling an election.

Despite lingering fears about a political vacuum, business leaders are upbeat about the move.


The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) said the House dissolution, announced in the Royal Gazette on Monday, has entrepreneurs in a positive mood as they plan their business paths.

Though the House dissolution days before the term of the Prayut administration ends on March 23 had been widely anticipated, the announcement provides clarity.

"This is good for the business sector because we can begin to see more clearly what will happen next, allowing us to prepare our businesses under a new government," said Kriengkrai Thiennukul, chairman of the FTI.

"The settling on an exact election date in May also eases some concerns of business leaders over unclear issues raised before the dissolution."

By law, important issues that will commit the next government to take action cannot be approved by the caretaker cabinet.

Tanit Sorat, vice-chairman of the Employers' Confederation of Thai Trade and Industry, said many entrepreneurs are now considering their long-term investment after a new government is formed.

Employers may face higher daily minimum wages for workers as this is a key campaign pledge of many parties vying to gain votes, he said.

Increasing wages too rapidly will not be good for the Thai economy, said Mr Tanit.

The cabinet resolved to raise the minimum wage by 5.02% in October last year.

The new daily wages, ranging from 328 to 354 baht, took effect sooner than the original schedule of Jan 1, 2023.

The decision was believed to stem from a political ploy to win "big groups of voters" in the general election, but the increase was considered acceptable because it occurred during a period of higher inflation, Mr Tanit said earlier.


Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the House dissolution was positive because it creates clarity for all political parties to move forward and compete.

The public and private sectors as well as foreign investors should have higher confidence, leading to clearer trends for Thailand's economic development, said Mr Sanan.

He said the chamber would like to see the quick and smooth formation of a new government after the election because it will facilitate budget disbursement and shore up the economy, maintaining various policies and measures related to people's living costs.


Udom Srimahachota, vice-president of the western chapter of the Thai Hotels Association, said hotels focused on the domestic market could face a slowdown in terms of government meetings and incentives until late June during the political vacuum following the poll.

This situation could worsen the outlook for the domestic market in the low season as the government subsidy scheme that helps absorb travel costs ends in April, he said.

Hotels in Hua Hin and Cha-am have yet to see many advanced bookings in May, as schools will be opened by that time, said Mr Udom.

"In addition to the governmental sector, many private companies might wait and see the outcome of the general election before deciding to spend budget for corporate trips," he said.

However, the election should not affect inbound tourism as foreign tourists have kept visiting Thailand since it reopened last year.

Mr Udom said the new government should prioritise the tourism industry and gear up more developments in sustainable tourism and tourist safety, while promoting new destinations in secondary areas.

He also urged the government to continue its hotel subsidy scheme through the low season until September.


Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow insisted on Tuesday the government would not let the political vacuum affect the economy, while pledging to accelerate budget disbursement to stimulate the economy and take care of people.

The government also looks set to use the Oil Fuel Fund to subsidise diesel prices during the transitional period before a new cabinet is formed, he said.

According to Mr Supattanapong, after the dissolution of parliament, the government can still manage the economy and take care of people as usual.

He assured the public there should not be any economic problems during the period after the poll, which is a particular concern of the private sector.

"The government is still able to accelerate the disbursement of various budgets from all ministries, as earlier approved," said Mr Supattanapong.

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