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Phuket's Rising Prices Pile Concern on Labor, Costs

Posted Date: Tuesday, 3-Jul-2012

PHUKET: Prices on Phuket are now so high that the 300 baht minimum wage has no meaning, a meeting about wages and rising costs heard yesterday.

Vijit Dasantad, President of the Phuket Federation of Hotels and Service Labor, told the gathering at Provincial Hall in Phuket City that costs for basic living on Phuket were out of control.

''The measures have failed and Phuket's problems with rapid price rises continue as before,'' he said. The cost of living on Phuket is the fastest rising in Thailand.

Phuket prices rose 6.2 percent on the first six months of the year, the Ministry of Commerce announced today, with food and drink up 8.9 percent.

Questions are also being asked about the future of Phuket's labor supply. People are unwilling to migrate to Phuket because costs are outpacing wages.

Employers were likely to hire Burmese for some roles instead of Thais because Burmese were likely to work for less, employer representative Saroat Aungkanpilat told yesterday's meeting.

And there was still a need for Phuket workers to meet higher standards with the approach of the Asean economic community from 2015, he said.

Included in today's release of shocking new figures for prices on Phuket were: vegetables and fruit, up 14.5 percent; meat and seafood up 11.8 percent; rice and corn products up 9.2 percent; cooking oil and flavoring up 10.2 percent; cleaning equipment up 12.9 percent.

A survey of 157 businesses in Bangkok, the Bangkok periphery and Phuket - the provinces where the 300 baht minimum wage had been pioneered from April - showed 71.26 percent of firms had higher production costs while 48.50 had lower income under the minimum wage, yesterday's meeting heard.

Vice Governor Dr Sommai Preechasin said that at present there were 1649 jobs available with 2174 people registered as looking for work.

The national government has been trying to place a ceiling on the prices of basic items but it's acknowledged that Phuket - and especially Patong and Phuket's tourist west coast - is proving impossible to control.

Bhummindr Harinsult, vice-chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, was recently reported as saying that a survey showed 82.4 percent of operators in the pioneer minimum wage provinces insisted their business had lower competitiveness due to higher labor costs but static productivity.

The deadline for the verification process, designed to register all workers from Burma, Cambodia and Laos, has been extended to December 14.

However, Burmese are likely to be less attracted to Phuket as Burma speeds its own development in the leadup to the launch of the Asean economic community in 2015.

Sourced: phuketwan

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