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Thai PM Yingluck to press ahead with populist policies

Thailand's first female Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra speaks to the media after she received the royal command appointing her as the country's new premier at the Puea Thai party headquarters in Bangkok August 8, 2011. REUTERS/Rungroj Yongrit/Pool

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand’s newly elected prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, said on Friday her government would push ahead with the policies that formed the basis of her successful election campaign, with the aim of boosting consumption and spurring economic growth.

A draft programme, including a rise in the daily minimum wage to 300 baht (6 pounds) throughout the country among other big-spending policies, would be put to the cabinet for approval next week, Yingluck told reporters.

“The policies that we have promised will be included in the policy plan,” Yingluck said.

Puea Thai Party, led by Yingluck, the sister of self-exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, won the July 3 election in a landslide.

One of the biggest challenges facing Yingluck is to deliver on the policies that got her elected without damaging the economy, hurting private businesses, increasing debt or accelerating inflation.

Businesses and independent economists are particularly worried about an abrupt increase in the minimum wage. If implemented, the proposed new minimum would mean an increase of 90 percent in some provinces.

Economic ministers of the six-party coalition government discussed their policies on Friday and are to complete the draft programme on Monday. The government will deliver its policy statement to parliament on August 23 or 24.

Finance Minister Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala insisted on the need to boost domestic spending and regional trade since global problems, including U.S. and euro zone debt problems, would take time to be resolved.

“We will discuss these issues with the Bank of Thailand and look at the possible impact of the volatility and weaknesses in these big countries. We will work on this closely,” he told reporters.

Reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak; Writing by Viparat Jantraprap; Editing by Alan Raybould