HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

BOT forecasts 3.5-5% growth for third and forth quarter

TOT shows 7.58 billion baht net profit for first half of 2003

Dog designer clothes seen to have promising prospect in overseas markets

Energy ministry ordered to monitor world oil prices

Poll reveals most people agree with government’s decision on early debt repayment

Energy minister says new national oil strategies will turn Thailand into oil exporter

BOT forecasts 3.5-5% growth for third and forth quarter

A recent report by the Bank of Thailand (BOT said the country’s economic growth in the third quarter is projected at only 3.5-5 percent, a further decline from the first and second quarters. The report also stated that there is a 64 percent possibility that the economic expansion in the fourth quarter would also be about 3.5-5 percent.

According to the report, positive factors that could have impact on the country’s economic growth are private sector consumption and further export expansion. The central bank projected, however, that these two vital dynamics would expand at a slower pace than that of the first half of the year.

The BOT acknowledged that the fourth quarter is winter season in western countries, which substantially increases the demand for oil. This in turn could trigger an oil price hike. The report stated if the price hike is one percent on average, Thailand’s economic growth is projected to decline by 0.01 percent, the report said, adding that if the oil price hike is not prolonged, Thailand’s economy would suffer minimum impact.

Businessmen’s confidence in the country’s economy during the month of July increased to a 54.90 level, signally sustainable growth. (TNA)

TOT shows 7.58 billion baht net profit for first half of 2003

TOT Corporation Plc President Sitichai Songpiriyakit recently announced that the firm had a total net profit of 7.58 billion baht on a revenue base of 30.5 billion baht for the first six months of this year. He said the biggest contributing factor was the boost in TOT’s fix-line services and revenues shared by private operators.

Sitichai said, “Fixed-line service brought in 16.7 billion baht revenue for the company over the period, and the concession fees it charged from private operators amounted to 8.5 billion baht, with interconnection amounting to 4.7 billion baht.”

“After being transformed to a company limited, TOT’s operations have been encouraging. So, I expect it to bring in an operating profit of higher than 10 billion baht by the year-end,” Sitichai added.

Sitichai said the firm will boost its service revenue and meet customers’ requirements by continuing to focus on its core fixed-line business and will introduce a variety of supplementary non-voice based services. He said TOT also plans to add 565,500 new fixed-line customers and hopes to increase its market share to 52 percent up from its present 51.2 percent. (TNA)

Dog designer clothes seen to have promising prospect in overseas markets

Your family dog’s fashion statement could be the result of a new growth industry in the kingdom. These days clothes are not now only for humans. Beloved pets of families the world over are now sharing in the warmth and diverse designs of clothes made from Thai fabrics. The popular trend of doggie fashion is on the rise and innovative Thai designers are jumping on the bandwagon.

‘Noi’, a Thai designer of clothes for both male and female dogs said, “My orders have been increasing satisfactorily, particularly from foreign dealers for sale in overseas markets. My customers are very impressed with the unique styles and designs made from Thai fabrics, namely cotton and silk.”

“This design work needs a lot of thought. I must take into account the specific characteristics of different dog breeds, body structures, behaviors, and sex. The workmanship must be of high quality to satisfy my customers’ demands,” Noi said.

Noi added that the most promising markets of the product were located in all regions worldwide, including Japan, the United States and Europe. (TNA)

Energy ministry ordered to monitor world oil prices

Energy Minister Prommin Lertsuridej recently stated that although the prime minister has ordered concerned officials to keep a eye on world oil prices, the current 13.69 baht a liter price for diesel oil is still lower than the ceiling price of 14.79 baht a liter, set during the US led war in Iraq, by 1.10 baht. He said the price of benzene oil slightly increased to a 17 baht per liter level but it is projected that it will not rise to 19-20 baht per liter and that the government’s intervention is not yet necessary.

The ministry will focus on the price of diesel oil which is the mainstay of the industrial production and transportation sectors. Prommin said the current price is not excessive and the 17.29 baht a liter price of benzene oil will not negatively impact the economy. Seeing no need yet for government subsidy, the ministry plans to let oil prices move in accordance with market mechanisms. (TNA)

Poll reveals most people agree with government’s decision on early debt repayment

Most people praise Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra-led administration for its repayment of remaining debts owned to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) ahead of schedule, according to a poll by Assumption University.

The survey was made on “Public Confidence in Government’s Attempt to Bail Out Ailing Economy Following Earlier Debt Repayment with IMF” with a random sample of people in 22 provinces nationwide during 1-9 August. It showed 79.32% admired the government’s decision to repay all debts ahead of time, while 4.43% did not, and 16.3% voiced no comment.

The survey disclosed that 71.8% expressed confidence in the government’s attempt to solve the country’s economic woes, while 10.3% did not.

It found 30.4% believed it would have to take 1-3 years for Thailand to strengthen and sustain the economic growth, and 42.7% and 18.4% thought it would need 4-6 and 7-9 years respectively.

On the public’s confidence in the government’s attempt to cope with the poverty, 46.1% believed it could be achieved with 27.6% expressing no comment.

On positive factors that could contribute to the economic growth, most people said it depended on an increase in purchasing power, people’s spending and foreign investment respectively.

On negative factors that could undermine investment climate and economic growth, most viewed they included bribe-taking, corruption, traffic woes, protest and violence, bureaucratic red tape, insecurity in life and property, and poor quality of education. (TNA)

Energy minister says new national oil strategies will turn Thailand into oil exporter

Energy Minister Dr. Prommin Lertsuridej recently disclosed that the government is preparing national energy and petrochemical strategies to transform Thailand from an oil importer to one of the region’s key oil exporters within the next two years.

Speaking during a visit to private sector oil refineries and gas separation plants based at the Mabtaput Industrial Estate in the eastern province of Rayong, Dr. Prommin said, “Thailand’s potential to develop its energy and petrochemical sectors is enormous, and the development of these sectors will in turn contribute to overall economic growth.”

Noting that three oil refineries belonging to Shell, PTT and Caltex were able to use cutting-edge technology to provide the country with one-third of its oil needs, Dr. Prommin said, “I will collect information from the companies to draw up national energy and petrochemical strategies and discuss with the oil companies how to boost Thailand’s potential in these sectors, as well as how to amend related legislation, in particular legislation relating to the tax structure, as tax problems were currently preventing oil refineries from developing to their maximum potential.”

Expressing hope that the strategies would soon lead to the transformation of Thailand into one of the region’s key oil exporters, he nonetheless warned that the strategies would only be successful if the tax structure was amended to allow refineries to order the purchase of more oil for export.

Dr. Prommin stressed that at the same time, the supervision of customs regulations and excise tariffs would also have to be amended to ensure the effective growth of the sector. Voicing optimism, Dr. Prommin said, “Changes can be made in the near future, as Thailand’s readiness in terms of oil refineries, gas separation plants and oil storage facilities means that the strategies can be drawn up quickly.”

On 28 August a seminar will be convened bringing together representatives from the public and private sectors as a preliminary move to work on the national strategies. Dr. Prommin also hinted that the use of land belonging to the Navy where oil storage facilities were located might be extended for commercial use, with shipyards and ports.

Dr. Prommin voiced confidence that within the next two years Thailand would leap to the top place for energy and petrochemicals in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the third highest place in Asia and the fourth highest place in the world, noting that natural gas reserves in the Gulf of Thailand were sufficient to bring a huge amount of revenue into the country. (TNA)