Vol. II No. 51 Saturday December 20 - December 26, 2003
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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Thailand ready to become regional economic hub

Spas and traditional massage parlors to be regulated

Thailand ready to become regional economic hub

Thailand is on track to become a regional financial center to compete with Singapore, thanks to its sheer volume of trade, according to an advisor to the finance minister.

Speaking in response to government initiatives to transform Thailand into a regional financial hub, Rungrueng Phittayasiri noted that a large volume of trade transactions had been conducted in Thailand, while the economy had continued to grow, and government policies had helped pull in foreign investment.

Rungrueng said, “Not only is the volume of trade transactions extremely high when compared with the size of the overall economy, but Thailand is also blessed with natural resources which facilitated its role as a production base. At the same time, government policies have encouraged small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and the establishment of duty-free zones.”

He also pointed to the modernity of Thailand’s economic system, noting that Thailand participated in account trade with other nations, and had reformed several pieces of related legislation designed to boost the confidence of foreign investors. This meant that Thailand’s economic potential was now in fact higher than that of regional powerhouse Singapore, he said.

“However, one must concede that in terms of becoming a hub for stock trading, Thailand cannot yet compete with Hong Kong, as Hong Kong’s exchange rate is more stable than that of Thailand. Therefore we have to work to ensure the stability and strength of the baht exchange rate so that we can compete with Hong Kong as a center for stock market trading,” he said. (TNA)

Spas and traditional massage parlors to be regulated

Spas and traditional massage parlors will soon be strictly supervised under the Ministry of Public Health’s regulations to ensure that they do not offer sex services, according to Public Health Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan.

Sudarat said, ‘The entertainment venue bill awaits the approval of His Majesty the King, and is likely to become law early next year. The bill is part of the government’s attempt to crack down on the sex trade hiding in entertainment venues. When it comes into effect, the entertainment bill will classify spas and legitimate traditional massage parlors separately from those supervised by the Interior Ministry.”

Sudarat said all spas and traditional massage parlors would eventually be supervised by the Public Health Ministry. Ministerial regulations would then require the increased standard of traditional Thai massage services to be accepted by both Thais and foreigners. Public hearings will be held, as the regulations would be issued in early 2004, she said. (TNA)

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