Vol. II No. 39 Saturday September 27 - October 3, 2003
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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Thai prime minister expects 8 percent economic growth next year

Small property developers still hurt for loans

PTTEP increases stake in Yetagun Gas Field

Philips to launch range of plasma TVs

Thai prime minister expects 8 percent economic growth next year

The Associated Press

Thailand’s economy should expand by 8 percent in 2004, a sharp jump from the 6 percent growth expected this year, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said on Monday, September 15th. Thaksin’s upbeat forecast follows a series of bullish revisions for this year’s growth in gross domestic product as quarterly economic statistics have been rosier than expected.

“We grew 6.2 percent in the first half of the year and we won’t have any problem to get around 6 percent in the second half,” Thaksin said. “This will bring economic growth for the whole year to over 6 percent.” He expects the growth momentum to carry into 2004.

“We will make it 8 percent next year,” Thaksin said.

GDP grew a higher-than-expected 5.8 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2003 as rising private investment and strong exports offset declining tourism revenue and a slight slowdown in consumer demand due to the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, the National Economic and Social Development Board announced earlier Monday.

NESDB, Thailand’s state planning body, raised its 2003 GDP growth forecast to 5.8 percent to 6.2 percent - from 4.5 percent to 5.5 percent previously - citing stronger-than-forecast growth of 6.2 percent in the first half of the year. Economists had projected full-year growth of 5.7 percent.

NESDB also expressed some concerns for next year with regard to U.S. economic growth and the possible revaluation of the Chinese yuan. But Thaksin said the Thai economy is largely driven by domestic factors, so external elements shouldn’t significantly obstruct growth. “We have a dual-track policy and we already rely a lot on ourselves,” he said.

Small property developers still hurt for loans

According to Asian Property Plc (AP) vice-president Phumipat Sinachareon, the county’s small and medium-sized property developers say they still face problems getting credit from most local commercial banks. “Developers know most of these banks prefer to loan to big corporations and are hesitant to provide loans to small and medium-sized entrepreneurs, especially those in the property sector, fearing they may be stuck with more non-performing loans,” he said.

However, according to the Bank of Thailand (BOT,) prospects for expansion in the property sector remain good.

BOT Domestic Economic Policy Department senior director Atchana Waiquamdee said, “The value of land purchased during the first half 2003 by property developers for their projects grew by 35.9 percent from the same period last year to total 159.8 billion baht. Housing loans extended by local commercial banks to homebuyers over the period grew by 11.7 percent. Furthermore, loans extended by the Thai banking industry during the first half of 2003 grew by 2.3 percent from the same period a year ago. (TNA)

PTTEP increases stake in Yetagun Gas Field

In a recent statement PTT Exploration & Production Plc (PTTEP) said it has increased its stake in Myanmar’s Yetagun Gas Field to 19.3 percent from 14.2 percent through its unit PTT International and PTTEP Offshore Investment (PTTEPO). The unit bought a 5.2 percent stake from Premier Oil Plc’s unit Premier Petroleum Myanmar for US$78 million. The move follows the pull out of Premier Petroleum Myanmar, which owned a 26.7 percent stake.

The Yetagun field is located in the Gulf of Mataban and covers 24,130sqkm. It produces approximately 300 million standard cubic feet per day of natural gas and around 9,000 barrels a day of condensate. It also operates a 277-kilometer gas pipeline from the Yetagun field to the Thailand-Myanmar border. (TNA)

Philips to launch range of plasma TVs

Philips Electronics (Thailand) plans to regain its top place in the local consumer electronics market by launching the whole range of its pixel-plus plasma television sets.

Philips’ general manager of consumer electronics division Chadil Chulinrak said, “We will introduce 10 new products by the end of this year, including the “pixel plus” color television at a price of 70,000 baht, and a 55-inch projection TV and HDTV (high definition TV) monitor worth 169,000 baht.”

Chadil added that the firm’s consumer electronics division is expected to achieve 10-15 percent sales growth this year.

The company started its sale in middle-end and low-end product this September and it hopes to achieve about 500 million baht revenue from this segment within the next year.

“We also plan to introduce a mobile phone product which will support the 3G technology and also launch information technology products soon,” Chadil said. (TNA)

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