Charoen Pokphand’s Dhanin Says Minimum Wage, Baht Should Rise

Thai billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont, chairman of Charoen Pokphand Group, comments on the nation’s daily minimum wage and the baht. He made the remarks to reporters at a seminar in Bangkok today.

Wages in Bangkok and six other provinces rose to 300 baht ($9.70) a day this month, according to the labor ministry. In the rest of the country, pay will initially climb an average of 40 percent, and to 300 baht per day by 2013.

On the minimum wage:

“I think the wage should rise to 500 baht per day. That will be a sufficient level given rising oil prices now. Still, the government is pretty brave to raise the wage to 300 baht. Of course, the small and medium-sized businesses may suffer for a while. They should put up with it and their businesses will improve as low-income earners will spend more money when their income rises and that will boost the economy.

‘‘Don’t worry about rising unemployment. Now there is high demand for labor for reconstruction after the floods. Don’t be afraid about plant relocation. They can’t do that easily as it takes years to set up a production base.

‘‘I think now is the best timing for Thailand. We are ready in all aspects with high foreign reserves and trade agreements with big countries like Japan that help our exports. If our politics are more stable, it will be even better.’’

On the baht:

‘‘The baht has to strengthen. With such high foreign reserves, our currency can’t weaken. The strong baht will benefit oil and machinery imports, but it will hurt exporters. Still, we should let it move with the market mechanism. We can’t fight against the market trend, we will lose. The central bank should spend the money they use to defend the baht to help those business groups that are at a disadvantage because of the strong baht.

‘‘We should take about 10 percent of our reserves to invest in some assets with high returns. That will be better than holding the dollar.’’

To contact the reporters on this story: Suttinee Yuvejwattana in Bangkok at suttinee1@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tony Jordan at tjordan3@bloomberg.net

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