BP has been busy recently and don’t have time to fact-check all media stories, but in only a few sentences in one article today in The Nation makes three glaring mistakes that BP couldn’t let slide. The relevant excerpt are below:
Two major populism policies are now causing headaches for Yingluck because they are backfiring on the administration. The policies to raise the minimum wage to Bt300 throughout the nation and the entry salary for university-educated civil servants to Bt15,000 are now creating economic problems for the government.
Yingluck has not yet been able to raise the minimum wage and salary but the prices of consumer goods have been inflating dramatically in advance of the pay hikes.
Yingluck seemed not to give in as she tried to keep her promise to voters by adding some money to the incomes of university-educated civil servants. Their base salary remains the same but the government has given them an extra fillip to make their income reach Bt15,000 per month. The base salary cannot be hiked now since the government has no budget to adjust the salary system for all grades.
The minimum wage hike also covered only seven provinces, not the entire country, as the policy was strongly opposed by employers.
BP: First, the article says Yingluck has not yet been able to raise the minimum wage and then a few paragraphs later says the minimum wage hike only covers seven provinces. The sentences contradict each other.
Second, it says the base salary of university-educated civil servants has remained the same. Wrong. Their base salary increased as of January 1, 2012. On January 31, the Bangkok Post reported:
The salary adjustment would proceed over three years, starting this year with retrospective effect to Jan 1.
The cabinet approval covered only the first year. The cabinet would deliberate the second and the third year increase later, Mr Nonthikorn said.
In the first year, 2012, the new salary structure will provide a minimum monthly income of 7,620 baht per month for government officials with a lower vocational certificate, known as Por Wor Chor in Thai, and a 9,300-baht minimum monthly income for those acquiring an upper vocational certificate, or Por Wor Sor.
Those holding a bachelor’s degree will get a minimum 11,680 baht a month, a master’s 15,300 baht and a doctoral degree 19,000 baht.
Below is a chart from the Bangkok Post showing the initial rise:
BP: Yes, the government has not been able to fully implement the policy of a 15,000 baht salary (which it seems won’t be implemented fully until 2014) although the allowance + base salary for bachelor’s degree holders now equals 15,000 Baht a month. The base salary of university-educated civil servants has already increased by 11.7%-27.8%.
Third, the article states the minimum wage hike covers only 7 provinces. Again, wrong. At the time of the election last year, the daily minimum wage was between 159 to 221 Baht – with the amount being higher in urban provinces and lower in rural provinces. In October, a tripartite committee of employers, employees, and the government approved an approximate 40% nationwide increase of the minimum wage starting from April 1, 2012 for all 77 provinces. Because of the differing minimum wages, the approximately 40% increase for workers in Bangkok, Phuket, and 5 other provinces surrounding Bangkok the daily minimum wage of 300 Baht, but workers in Thailand’s other 70 provinces also received an approximately 40% increase as well on April 1, 2012. Hence, the minimum wage hike did not cover just 7 provinces.
Sometimes mistakes happen, but these are three glaring mistakes in a few paragraphs. This is not the first time and, in fact, BP often reads something and thinks “what? really?” and then you Google and read a bit more and you realize you have wasted your time chasing down a non-story.