NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

“Last minute” motorists inundate Transportation Office

Beware of floods and landslides

Railway improvements on the Chiang Mai-Lamphun route will be finalized in 8 months

APEC SMEs Business Forum to be held in Chiang Mai August 4-7

5 million fish released into Mae Ping River

Uttaradit to Phrae highway to be widened

Bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Thailand to be enhanced

Our longans have to be chemical free before export

Phrae businesses to band together to compete with international mega-store

THAI promoting Chiang Mai as regional aviation hub

Cross Thailand road rally scheduled for end of August

Chiang Mai Gate Market to go ‘back to the future’

Sunday walking street to move

Three foreigners and 6 Thais arrested for drugs

Interior Ministry to “do whatever is necessary” to suppress dark influences in the north

Burma is satisfied with Thailand’s opium reduction in Baan Yong Kha

Burmese laborers arrested for illegal immigration into the country

Chiang Mai Immigration Office announces rise in visa fees imminent

“Last minute” motorists inundate Transportation Office

Many wait until last week to apply for permanent driving licenses

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Chiang Mai Provincial Land Transportation Office last week was inundated with hordes of people demanding permanent driving licenses before the new driving license regulations went into effect. Beginning in August, drivers can no longer receive lifetime licenses.

Hordes of people wait to register for their permanent driving licenses, and this just to check their documents. They needed to return the next day to receive their driving licenses.

A Chiang Mai Provincial Land Transportation officer informed Chiangmai Mail that more than 800 people came into the office last week alone to apply for a permanent driving license.

“Sunday, July 27, was the cutoff date for motorists to register for a permanent license. People passing the transportation training course and receiving their licenses after this period will be required to renew their license every three years,” the officer said.

The long queue at the Land Transportation Office meant all these “last minute motorists” had to wait at least 45 minutes to register. It also affected people visiting the office for other purposes, and many gave up and went home to try another day rather than wait.

Patcharin Kampang, a customer who came to apply for an international driving license, said that she did not have enough time to waste. She only needed to have her personal documents checked, and decided to return the next week.

Each person, on average, spent an hour completing the process. But take heart, now that this last minute rush is over, the number of people visiting the office, and therefore the amount of time each needs to spend there, should return to normal.


Beware of floods and landslides

Department of Mineral Resources and Meteorological Center warn of heavy rains in late August

Nuttanee Thaveephol

The Department of Mineral Resources and Meteorological Center are keeping an eye on a tropical cyclone in the Western North Pacific Ocean that may move towards the South China Sea, causing the Southwest Monsoon over Thailand and the Gulf of Thailand to strengthen, and an increase in rainfall.

There are high probabilities that some tropical storms will move near or pass northeastern or northern Thailand, so the community should follow the weather news carefully, a spokesperson at the Northern Meteorological Center said.

The Department of Mineral Resources has also issued a “watch” for people living in risky areas, such as watershed areas, near streams, and near steep mountains, to particularly be wary of landslides and forest floods. Northern provinces at risk include Phrae, Nan, Uttaradit, Phayao, Chiang Rai, and nearby areas.

The middle of the rainy season brought a severe tropical storm, “Koni”, to upper Vietnam and Laos, which resulted in very cloudy skies and scattered showers this past week.

Tropical Typhoon “Imbudo” moved past Luzon, Philippines, and the South China Sea, and continued to the eastern side of lower China July 23-25, resulting in increased prevailing southwest monsoon rainfall over the Andaman Sea, Thailand, with many isolated heavy to very heavy rain and gusty winds.

For the month of August, the Northern Meteorological Center expects normal levels of rain in the beginning, and increased levels towards the end of the month. Many days this month will have mostly cloudy skies, scattered to almost widespread thundershowers with isolated heavy falls and very heavy falls on some days, maximum temperature 31-33ฐC, minimum temperature 22-24ฐC, relative humidity 75-85%, rainfall 210-260 mm, southerly to southwest winds 8-18 km./hr. and 20-25 rainy days.

“During this time, people living in the heavy rain areas in Thailand should be wary of flooding conditions and should proceed with caution. Travelers who intend to visit Hainan, upper Vietnam, Hong Kong and/or the Philippines should obtain updated weather information before their journey,” a spokesperson at the Northern Meteorological Center said.


Railway improvements on the Chiang Mai-Lamphun route will be finalized in 8 months

Roadway will also be improved

Metinee Chaikuna

The governor of Lamphun announced that improvements to the railway along the Chiang Mai-Lamphun route will be finished in 8 months. Using an allocated budget of over 188 million baht, improvements in passenger convenience will be made, and the possibility of accidents will be decreased.

Governor Thawat Satiennam told Chiangmai Mail that the project, which is one of the prime minister’s projects, is progressing well.

Director of Public Works Department and Town and Country planning Sawang Srisarkun promised that he would accelerate the project so that it can be finished in 8 months, so that people would be able to use the improved services as soon as possible.

The Chiang Mai–Lamphun road construction, next to the train route, will also sport a bicycle lane, 2.50 meters wide. Work on the overpass in and around the Northern Industrial Estate will start next year. This heavily used area is a major accident spot, and it is expected that the construction of an overpass will significantly reduce the accident rate.


APEC SMEs Business Forum to be held in Chiang Mai August 4-7

400 APEC executives expected to attend

The APEC SMEs Business Forum 2003 is scheduled for August 4-7 in Chiang Mai, with the theme, “Strengthening the APEC Entrepreneurial Society”.

It is anticipated that the Business Forum will attract about 400 executives from APEC member economies. The main objectives of this Business Forum are to provide a platform for SME entrepreneurs to share their views and experiences in order to cope with the rapid changing of the world market, and to strengthen capacity building for SMEs within the APEC region.

Any results and recommendations made by the Business Forum will be subsequently reported to the APEC SMEs Ministerial Meeting.

In addition, the business matching service will be also arranged upon request made by interested participants.

To obtain more information on the Business Forum, visit the website www.apecsme-businessforum.com


5 million fish released into Mae Ping River

Fishery Office hopes to revitalize Mae Ping River

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Chiang Mai Provincial Fishery Office has launched a project to release millions of fish into Mae Ping River in an initiative to recover the river and it’s tributaries, and to encourage communities located near the riverbanks to watch over their river of life.

Sompotch Tempium, administrative head of the Chiang Mai Provincial Fishery Office, said the office recently released millions of fish and aquatic animals into Mae Ping River in a combined effort by private and public sectors. 3.7 million prawns and 1.3 million fish were released into the Ping River from the pier in Hod District, Chiang Mai Province.

The event was publicized to help the community realize just how important it is to preserve water resources. As such, the fishery department wants to maintain a stable number of aquatic animals in the natural environment, and aims to sustain a balance between fish caught and fish left in the river.

Generally, Mae Ping fishermen catch around 28,000 kilograms of fish per day in the area between Chiang Dao District and Hod District.

Fishermen and people living on the banks need to care for the natural balance, and need to be informed of the ecological impacts if the equation becomes unbalanced. When a discrepancy occurs, it is usually due to local peoples’ lack of understanding. Therefore, the fishery office has applied a strategy of establishing a community network to preserve natural water resources and animals. Through this strategy, they hope people will realize that the river must be preserved.


Uttaradit to Phrae highway to be widened

Two-lane highway will soon have 4 lanes

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

The Joint Public and Private Sectors Consultative Committee (JPPC) agrees with a proposal to expand the highway between Uttaradit and Phrae provinces from 2 lanes to 4 in order to provide more convenient modes of communication and transportation.

The highway-widening project would cover an area about 50 km long, from Uttaradit Province to Denchai District in Phrae. Most of the rest of the highway running all the way from Bangkok to Chiang Rai is already 4-lanes, except for this dangerous portion of the roadway.

Thai Chamber of Commerce committee member, Suwit Wongworakul said that a group of representatives from 4 northern province chambers of commerce proposed the highway extension project. Phrae, Nan, Phayao, and Chiang Rai chambers coordinated the proposal.

However, the committee still needs to submit their plans to the Highways Department for consideration and approval of a construction budget.

The two-lane section of the highway from Uttaradit to Denchai is dangerous because it contains steep slopes, dangerous curves and some sections are badly in need of repair.

Suwit said that if the 4-lane expansion is approved and finished, the route would become much safer for travel. “Accidents and corresponding loss of life would be reduced,” he said.

He also said that it would improve tourism to the area, as it would be safer and more convenient for tourists to get there.

Members of the corresponding chambers of commerce said that the highway-widening would increase economic development in the area. The government has already approved a budget for constructing a road from Tambon Huay Kron in Nan Province to Pak Beng in Laos in order to improve economic conditions between the 2 countries and the northern region of Thailand.

Committee members feel that China, as an economic partner of Thailand, might change their main transportation route from the Gulf of Thailand to this new roadway, as it would shorten the distance traveled by 800-900 km.

The Highways Department has hired a company to study the impacts of the highways construction project, and on August 7, a project seminar will be arranged at the Agricultural and Technology College in Phrae.


Bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Thailand to be enhanced

MOU signed to promote business relationships

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

A significant business trip from Chiang Mai to Chittagong City in Bangladesh, led by Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantiphat, was considered a great success, as a signing ceremony was held to establish the Joint Chiang Mai - Chittagong Chambers of Commerce and Industrial Federation.

Governor Suwat and 66 eager participants from northern region government and private sectors, including the Department of Export Promotion, Northern Center, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Region 1, Economic Investment Center, Board of Investment (BOI), Chambers of Commerce from the upper northern region, Chiang Mai Tourist Business Association, and Thai Airways International visited Chittagong from July 16-20.

The trip had been arranged to create economic and social relations to promote business and tourism cooperation between Chittagong and Chiang Mai. Many feel this will help realize the government’s policy on promoting Chiang Mai as the region’s aviation hub for the north.

Rachan Weeraphan, president of the Chamber of Commerce, Region 9 and the Committee on Joint Quadrangle Economic Development and Cooperation, said that the party was warmly welcomed upon arrival to the Chittagong airport by ministers of Foreign Affairs, Commerce, and Tourism, as well as high-ranking officials from both Dhaka and Chittagong.

“From this trip, we now know the potentiality of Chittagong, and that entrepreneurs from northern Thailand will be able to enhance economic partnerships with businesspeople there, especially those involved in trade and tourism. ... Some business sectors in Bangladesh need investment from other countries in areas such as construction, business, hotel, and fisheries,” said Rachan.

However, at present, some of the problems that effect business have not been solved; for example, fruit exports from Thailand to Chittagong have been stymied by Bangladesh’s high import taxes and departure taxes. Private sectors plan to propose solutions to these problems to the governments for further talks between the two countries.

A foreign affairs official from Bangladesh said that the two business communities should be urged to take a more pro-active approach in fulfilling the existing economic potential.

To create a concrete cooperation for growth, development, and promotion of bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Thailand, the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding between the Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce and Federation of Thai Industries was organized to institute the Joint Chiang Mai-Chittagong Chambers of Commerce and Industrial Federations.


Our longans have to be chemical free before export

Official test kits to be used

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Longan producers have been advised to use test kits for their products to show that the longans do not contain banned chemical residues. Export stickers must show that this has been done.

Surapoj Nimanon, head of Chiang Mai Provincial Agriculture Office demonstrates how to use the test kit.

Surapoj Nimanon, head of Chiang Mai Provincial Agriculture Office, stated that all the packages that are to be delivered to other countries have to be checked by the Department of Agricultural.

At the beginning of the year, China banned all Thai longan imports due to toxic residues found in some products.

Surapoj said that 500 groups in Chiang Mai and 100 groups in Lamphun will be established as longan product development groups. There must be 2 representatives from each group participating in a toxic substance examination training course, and they will also receive test kits for their groups. Only after the products are checked can the groups attach guarantee stickers on every package.

“It is imperative that 100% of the products must be examined before being exported, but only 10% of all packages will be randomly examined and checked,” noted Surapoj.

The Provincial Agriculture Office said that at first the groups will receive free solution and test kits, but would have to buy refills for the next time, at a price of 300 baht per 10 samples, and 800 baht for 30 samples.

Surapoj said that longan fruit harvesting this year is down by about 30-40% in Chiang Mai, and 40-50% in Lamphun, because gardeners still use chemical substances and try to harvest half-ripe longans to sell out of season. However, to harvest during an inappropriate period can affect the long-term production and the quality.


Phrae businesses to band together to compete with international mega-store

Local government officials to train them how

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

It’s inevitable - an international “mega-store” will soon be built in Phrae, and local commerce officials are encouraging owners of smaller businesses to band together so that they might compete and ultimately survive.

Phrae Chamber of Commerce, Phrae Municipality, and the Office of Commercial Affairs are spearheading the movement, and plan to organize training courses and seminars for local business entrepreneurs to help them compete with this, as yet, unnamed international corporation.

Minister of commerce secretary, Dr. Tossaporn Sereerak on July 21 presided over the opening ceremony of the first training program, arranged by the Phrae Chamber of Commerce and Phrae Municipality and held at Mae Yom Palace Hotel in Phrae.

Officials hope to organize small local entrepreneurs into what they are calling the Entrepreneurs Potentiality Development Program, to improve business relations amongst them, as well as increase their chance of competing with the international company that plans to establish a mega store in Phrae.

“The training program is aimed at helping the local business sector become stronger and confident enough to compete with this overseas entrepreneur,” said Dr. Tossaporn.

According to this program, more than 100 participants would have a chance to receive more information and gain a better understanding of the commercial situation in this ever-changing world, which would encourage and support them to run their appropriate business strategies in order to compete at international franchise standards.

Dr. Tossaporn Sereerak also said that, due to free-trade competition regulations, it wasn’t likely that the establishment of the mega store would be banned, even though many smaller storeowners disagree with the concept. “Therefore, local businessmen should work hard together to stay in business,” he concluded.


THAI promoting Chiang Mai as regional aviation hub

To increase flights to neighboring countries

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Thai Airways International Public Company, Ltd. (THAI) plans to improve Chiang Mai’s position as regional aviation hub by creating more traveling needs and increasing international charter flights originating in Chiang Mai.

Veerapong Kranlert, station manager of THAI, announced plans for developing Chiang Mai as the region’s aviation hub.

According to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s policy on developing Chiang Mai as the aviation hub for the region, THAI, in cooperation with government and private sectors, is finding new ways to create more traveling needs. Part of their plan is to focus on specialized tourism target groups, including health, medication, trade and industry, agricultural products, and garments.

Veerapong Kranlert, THAI’s Chiang Mai branch station manager said that THAI would improve services and increase flights during the 2003-2004 winter season, starting in October this year. The flights being increased include Bangkok - Hong Kong - Taipei - Hong Kong - Chiang Mai - Bangkok to 3 flights a week. THAI will also begin flights from Chiang Mai to nearby cities outside Thailand, such as Vientiane, Luang Prabang, and Yangon.

“The company is surveying the possibilities of establishing a regional budget airline for both domestic and international flights. There has also been negotiations with allied domestic airlines to consider establishing code-share agreements or creating joint services to provide flights from Chiang Mai to neighboring countries,” said Veerapong.

Currently, THAI provides round trip flights from Chiang Mai to Kunming twice a week, Chittagong three times a week, and is holding talks with Bangladesh’s domestic airline to increase charter flights to and from there as well.


Cross Thailand road rally scheduled for end of August

Touted as “Auto Venture - Unseen in Thailand”

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

The Tourism Authority of Thailand Northern Office Region 1 and 2 plan to launch a tourism campaign called “Auto Venture - Unseen in Thailand” from Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai to Phuket this August 28-September 2.

Chalermsak Suranan, TAT Northern Office Region 1 director, notified Chiangmai Mail that the tourism campaign was created with the intent to promote the 10th APEC Finance Ministers Meeting, which will be held in Phuket this September.

Moreover, this “Unseen in Thailand” project is meant to encourage Thai and foreign tourists to explore Thailand via what is being hailed as a tourism route from northern to southern Thailand (Chiang Rai - Chiang Mai - Phuket).

To join the trip, it will cost participants 8,000 baht for 2 persons and a car. This rate will include accommodation, food, and insurance for the entire trip. However, participants are responsible for their vehicle maintenance and fuel.

For more information, contact Anan Sideng at the TAT Northern Office Region 1, tel. 053 248 604, 053 248 607, or Ms. Yureephan Sanjaiya or Mr. Chulaphan Sithiwong at TAT Northern Office Region 2, tel. 01 951-9924, 053 740 442.


Chiang Mai Gate Market to go ‘back to the future’

To be refurbished in old Lanna style

Metinee Chaikuna

The Chiang Mai Gate Market is currently undergoing renovations, and when finished, the new and improved market should resemble an ancient Lanna style marketplace.

The market, one of the oldest of its kind in Chiang Mai, is being renovated under the Ministry of Public Health’s “Attractive Market project” promotional campaign.

Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn said that the Chiang Mai Gate Market has been set up for 30 years, and it is time its standards were improved to national and international levels. Therefore, it has been designated as the pilot project in this campaign. The major theme of the upgrades will be to transform the market into a local style similar to Lanna markets in the past.

The mayor went on to say that not only will the entire inside of the building get a new look, but also the quality of the food inside will be upgraded and checked regularly to ensure it is in line with the Ministry of Public Health’s policy. Regular checks will include calibrating scales, checking for chemical substances in the food and keeping an eye on prices.

The mayor also said that the project is receiving cooperation from all merchants at the market.

“This guarantees that the Chiang Mai Gate Market will achieve a very good level of ‘Attractive Market’ standards,” the mayor concluded.

The market development is being supported by the Chiang Mai Provincial Agricultural Office, Chiang Mai Provincial Commerce Office, Medical Science Center, Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office, Northern Weight and Measure Center, and the Sanitation and Environmental Division of Sriwichai Municipal District Municipality.


Sunday walking street to move

“Walking” down to Ratchadamnoen Road

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Chiang Mai’s Sunday walking street is going to be moved a little bit further from Thapae Road, to Ratchadamnoen Road, due to the ongoing water pipeline modifications and the work being done to bury electric wire and telephone lines.

Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn said that the government is giving financial support to the projects hiding electric cables and telephone wires underground in the area of Thapae Road. In order to accomplish this, of course some parts of the road have to be dug up, and while this is being done, Chiang Mai Waterworks is going to take the opportunity to modify expired pipelines along this area.

Therefore, the Sunday walking street has to temporarily move to Ratchadamnoen Road until construction is completed. The first Sunday in the new, temporary area will be Sunday, August 31.

The underground wire installation will be launched at the end of August, and is due to be finished within 8 months, using a total length of 1,055 meters of cables (from Nawarat Bridge to Thapae Gate).

However, before the new location for the walking street is finalized, the municipality will arrange a public hearing to gain input from residents to use in their feasibility study.


Three foreigners and 6 Thais arrested for drugs

Two Germans and a Scot among the arrested

Metinee Chaikuna

Two Germans, a Scot and 6 Thais were arrested last week for using drugs during a party at a Chiang Mai hotel.

Police had earlier learned of the group from an undercover agent, and that the group would hold their drug parties in different hotels around Chiang Mai.

On July 22 police received a tip-off that the group had congregated again for another party, and with a little investigative work, police also found out where the party would be held.

At 1 a.m., a police team stormed the hotel, and with the help of hotel management unlocked the door where the party was going on and put a quick end to the festive part of the festivities.

Six Thais were arrested: Arisa Thewata, 30, Weerasak Sathorn, 25, Duangduen Mahoi, 21, Sanran Janpen, 32, Ithipon Youngyen, 32, and Neeraj Korana, 30. In addition, 3 foreigners were arrested, 2 Germans and a Scot.

Police found 6 ya-ba pills on the bed and 3 tubes of heroine, as well as 1 set of instruments for using drug, lying on the floor.

One of the Thais, Arisa, confessed that she rented the room and persuaded her friends to use the drugs she bought from a woman named Tukkata and a man named Boy (she did not know their full names).

She said the ya ba cost 200 baht per pill, and the heroine 1,200 baht per bottle. She also said that they had been careful not to hold their drug parties in the same place, and would move around the city, renting different hotel rooms each time they wanted to get stoned.


Interior Ministry to “do whatever is necessary” to suppress dark influences in the north

Government will continue “war on drugs”

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Interior Minister Wan Muhammad Nor Matha said that the government will do whatever is necessary to help suppress dark influences in northern Thailand.

Interior Minister Wan Muhammad Nor Matha, who chaired a conference at Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel, said that the government will do whatever it takes to suppress the country’s dark influence problem.

The Interior Minister said that the government already has over 2,800 names on its blacklist, and he believes that with a bit more investigation, the number could reach as high as 5,000.

His remarks were made during a conference he chaired last week at Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel. Officials from the 8 northern provinces of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Lampang, Mae Hong Son, Phayao, Phrae and Nan attended the conference.

MOI officials expect to be able to suppress all dark influences and will begin with those suspected of operating within government offices. Anyone who comes forward to fight against these dark influences will receive full backing from the MOI, the interior minister said.

In the northern region, Wan Muhammad Nor said that the effort should be focused on four major problems: forestry trespassing, the underground lottery, gunmen and human traffickers. He said officials will need to work very hard to bring the situation under control within 2 months.

The interior minister also said that there are hopes that this campaign will be helpful in winning the “war on drugs”. Over 400,000 drug addicts are currently undergoing treatment in rehabilitation centers, and 90,000 drug dealers have surrendered to authorities.

However, the fight against drugs needs to continue, as the northern region is regarded as a gateway and transit area for drug trafficking to other parts of the country. “The drug problem and influential figures problem are interrelated,” he added.


ONCB and CMU discuss narcotics

Academic network to assist in solving drug problems

Supatatt Dangkrueng

The Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), Northern Region and Chiang Mai University (CMU) cooperated on creating a narcotics academics network conference held at Chiang Mai Hills Hotel. It was hoped that development of their academic network would assist in solving drug problems.

Pittaya Jinawat, director of ONCB, northern region, presided over the opening ceremony of the seminar, saying that drug suppression has faced some difficulties through lack of the academic information.

To assist, a center was opened to look at problems associated with the drug industry. It was established on August 23, 2001, and called the Northern Substance Abuse Center, which is located on the second floor of Research Institute for Health Sciences, Chiang Mai University. Its framework covers investigation of the number of drug users every three years and evaluating the drug situation and operational process of drug suppression.

This seminar was participated in by 50 participants including lecturers, academics, officers and authorities from Chiang Mai University involved in the narcotics action project.


Burmese laborers arrested for illegal immigration into the country

Police still looking to break up smuggling network

Metinee Chaikuna

On July 23, the police in Kaengpantao village, Chiang Dao district, arrested a group of aliens from Burma that had entered Thailand illegally.

During a routine check, officers from the police box at Kaengpantao village, Maena sub-district, Chiang Dao, Chiang Mai, checked a minibus running the Chiang Mai-Fang route, finding some suspicious looking passengers inside. The suspects tried to escape from the police; however, the fleet-footed officers were able to apprehend them.

During their interrogation, police learned that 8 of the passengers were Burmese. The guilty confessed that they had been staying in Thailand for 2 months, and that they entered Thailand after paying a Thai agent 3,000-4,000 baht each.

They said they had been staying in an orange orchard in Pangkwai village area, Fang district, and would be sent to work in Bangkok at a later date. While working as orange workers, they received 30 baht wages per day.

Apparently the agent booked them to go to the city by minibus, and they had to change busses in the area next to the police box in order to continue their trip to Bangkok.

They are all now incarcerated at the Chiang Dao police station.

The police continue to investigate the case and hope to break up a network which may be behind the smuggling of alien laborers.


Chiang Mai Immigration Office announces rise in visa fees imminent

Prices for all immigration services to rise under new immigration law

Phitsanu Thepthong

Pol Lt Col Kanokpun Roobkajorn, inspector at the Chiang Mai Immigration Office told Chiangmai Mail that fees for visas, visa extensions, re-entry permits, resident permits, in fact all immigration services are scheduled to rise significantly on August 26.

Chiang Mai Immigration Office inspector, Pol Lt Col Kanokpun Roobkajorn said that it looks likely that immigration service fees will nearly quadruple on August 26.

“As soon as we receive official confirmation from high-ranking officials, we will inform you immediately, so that you may inform the public,” she said, adding that for over 10 years, the Thai government has not increased service charges.

“The fees may be changed later on, and then an official announcement from the Chiang Mai Immigration Office will forthcoming,” the police inspector added.

Under the new regulations, the application fee for a visa extension, for example, will nearly quadruple, going from the current 500 baht charge up to 1,900 baht. Although the increase at this level is not insignificant, the nearly quadrupling of immigration service fees escalates as the length of stay increases, and will hit especially hard people applying for resident permits. The fee to submit a resident permit application, currently 2,000 baht, will rise to 7,600 baht, and the fee for receiving a residence permit book will go from 50,000 to 191,400 baht.

The increases are a result of a new Ministry of Interior regulation, signed by Interior Minister Wan Muhamad Nor Matha.

Immigration services most commonly used by foreign visitors and residents will be provided under the following price structure: Single entry transit visa 800 baht, single entry tourist visa 1,000 baht, single entry non-immigrant visa 2,000 baht, multiple entry non-immigrant visa (for use within one year) 5,000 baht, application for visa extension 1,900 baht, application for a single re-entry permit 1,000 baht, application for a multiple re-entry permit 3,800 baht, application for a residence permit 7,600 baht, approval of a residence permit (payable on receipt of residence book) 191,400 baht, approval of a residence permit (payable on receipt of residence book) for a foreigner married to a Thai, the spouse of a resident, and any of their children who have not reached the status of a Thai juristic person (i.e., unmarried children aged below 20 years) 95,700 baht.