HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

APEC smoothes the way for Thai silk

TOT to expand basic phone services

Development of IT to solve poverty

APEC smoothes the way for Thai silk

The recent Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) hosted by Bangkok has served to boost international recognition of the goods produced under the One Tambon One Product (OTOP) scheme, in particular silks and silk products.

In a recently published report, the Kasikorn Research Center (formally the Thai Farmers Research Centre) noted that OTOP goods had attracted the interest of the 21 APEC leaders, their spouses and journalists who met in Bangkok for their annual summit last month.

Describing silk and silk products as goods which were uniquely Thai, the research center noted that silk clothing had been thrust into prominence by the silk suits tailored specially for the APEC leaders. In addition, silk clothing had been showcased during the APEC Investment Mart.

The report predicted a promising future for the export of Thai silk and silk products, saying that the images of Thai silk shown by the international media during the APEC summit would inevitably boost international interest and confidence in Thai silks.

Forecasting export earnings of 1 billion baht from Thai silk in 2004, the report said that silk exports would also benefit from the government’s establishment of free trade areas (FTAs) with various countries, and with the establishment of distribution centers for Thai goods in other countries.

The research center called on Thai silk manufacturers to make continued developments in terms of production and marketing, in particular by introducing new designs, colors and patterns to ensure that designs were modern and met global tastes. In addition, the report called for a diversification of products, noting that competition in the fashion sector was already high. (TNA)

TOT to expand basic phone services

The cabinet has endorsed a plan to expand home phone services nationwide by over 500,000 lines. The plan, which requires an investment of 8.04 million baht, was proposed by TOT Corporation (TOT).

TOT, the privatized firm of the Telephone Organization of Thailand (TOT), will take all responsibilities solely for the investment project. The investment plan will take about 15 months to be completed, with 490,830 lines out of the total of 565,500 lines to be provided for users in provincial areas. (TNA)

Development of IT to solve poverty

The government is preparing to harness sophisticated information technology (IT) systems to help in the fight against poverty, according to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thaksin said that the Interior Ministry is now developing its IT systems, and will apply the Global Information Highway (GIH) system, and databases to finding solutions to poverty.

Developments would be based on four principles - easy to use, convenient, up to date and economical, he said, adding that DVDs and videos of the databases would be produced for all provincial governors and relevant organizations.

Pledging to wage a battle against poverty similar in form to the recent ‘war on drugs’, the prime minister said that a ‘poverty fighting committee’ would be established to assess the information gathered and to set up a ‘war room’ to solve all aspects of poverty. He expressed confidence that this would ensure that poverty was solved rapidly and efficiently.

At the same time, the government will introduce smart cards which would be used for information relating to all ministries, including the issuance of driving licenses, land title deeds, health insurance cards and social insurance cards. The data from these cards will be collected in order to identify problems and assess the poverty situation, in order that problems could be addressed quickly. (TNA)