Move Forward Party (MFP) leader Pita Limjaroenrat said a coalition government under his leadership would not raise the minimum daily wage to 450 baht immediately but would ensure a reasonable increase without causing damage to industry or the economy.
Mr Pita, the party’s prime ministerial candidate, made the promise when he met representatives of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) on Tuesday.
The increase to a 450-baht minimum wage was a component of the MFP’s election pledges.
Mr Pita said his party wanted to raise the minimum daily wage to 450 baht but would have to first discuss a new rate with its coalition allies, who had planned different increments.
He said he will also discuss the matter with labour organisations, small-and-medium-sized entrepreneurs.
“I confirm it won’t be a sharp increase that will shock the system. We agree that the wage increase must be based on economic growth, inflation, and the efficiency of workers,” Mr Pita said.
Currently, the minimum daily wage in Bangkok is 353 baht, while workers in Chon Buri receive 354 baht a day. Workers in other provinces receive less.
Mr Pita said that to ease any impact of the wage increase, his government would help employers, particularly SMEs, through tax reductions and measures to boost business liquidity, like those introduced by the former Yingluck Shinawatra administration.
He said that the proposed wage increase would be considered by a tripartite wage committee made up of employers, employees and government representatives if the MFP-led coalition becomes the government.
“I will listen to opinions from all involved this week and discuss the feedback with coalition partners, such as the Pheu Thai Party, which also supports a wage hike. We have to decide on a proper rate,” Mr Pita said.
“I assure you that we won’t increase the wage at will. We will do it based on international principles. During a two-month interval before the Election Commission officially endorses winning election candidates, I still have time to work on the matter carefully.”
He also said he could realise FTI’s proposed cap on the cost of electricity at 4.72 baht per unit with a revision of the power tariff calculation.
At present, the charge is 4.70 baht per unit. It was 5.33 baht for businesses from January to April.
Mr Pita further said that tax incentives are not the only way to attract foreign investment, but the ease of doing business, cutting unnecessary red tape and cracking down on corruption are also necessary to woo investors.
The MFP also wants to work with the FTI to set up panels to address problems affecting each industrial cluster, he said.
Kriengkrai Thiennukul, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), said he wanted the incoming government to scrap outdated laws and introduce new ones to promote emerging industries.
He also agreed with the idea of setting up joint panels made up of the FTI and government representatives to solve problems in each industrial cluster, in addition to the Joint Public and Private Sector Consultative Committee, which is responsible for seeking solutions to economic problems.
Mr Kriengkrai said he had been concerned about the MFP’s wage hike policy, but Mr Pita’s clarification has allayed his concerns.
Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC), said that Mr Pita is expected to meet for talks with representatives of the TCC next week.
Members of the TCC’s provincial chapters and the Young Entrepreneur Chamber of Commerce will also attend the meeting, Mr Sanan said.
He said topics under discussion are expected to include short-term measures to stimulate the economy, the reduction of electricity rates, revising laws that obstruct business operations, and the proposed wage hike.
Mr Sanan said that business operators expect a new government to take office quickly to ensure economic stability.