Vol. III No. 2 - Saturday January 10 - January 16 2004
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BUSINESS NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Government support for OTOP items will continue

PM orders establishment of nanotechnology center

SMEs to develop software industry

Cabinet gives nod to 130 billion-plus stimulus budget

Rush to plant rice as prices soar

Thai cuisine rated 4th in world’s top five

Government support for OTOP items will continue

Pleased with the government’s success in initiating and promoting the One Tambon, One Product (OTOP) scheme in both domestic and overseas markets, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has vowed that his administration will continue to support the community-based products to ensure continued growth. It has been projected that the total sale of OTOP items could reach over 100 billion baht over the next three years.

Referring to the impressive success of the recent trade fair, ‘OTOP City’, aimed at showcasing locally-made products under the government’s OTOP scheme, Thaksin said, “The growing sale of the village-based products both in domestic and international markets reached 33.27 billion baht during October 2002-September 2003. This has surpassed all government expectations.”

The Thai premier praised Her Majesty Queen Sirikit for initiating royal projects supporting handicrafts and other products produced by villagers, which inspired the launch of the OTOP scheme. He said that the government’s support would include the introduction of modern technologies to facilitate, and enhance production capacity and quality of OTOP goods, namely the introduction of three-dimension computer software to improve and develop designs of Thai cloth products, as well as the cooperation with agencies and organizations in exchange of experts and transfer of knowledge.

Realizing the significance of younger generations as powerful forces of the nation in the future, the Thai leader said that the government would also encourage teenagers and youths to participate in the OTOP scheme so that they would learn and appreciate traditional Thai arts and cultures, and feel proud of using and publicizing Thai products. (TNA)


PM orders establishment of nanotechnology center

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has called for the establishment of a nanotechnology center to boost Thailand’s competitiveness. While giving the 5th Annual Shin Sophonpanich Memorial Lecture on the future of the Thai economy, Thaksin said that the establishment of free trade areas (FTAs) with numerous other countries meant that Thailand now had to think on the offensive in order to expand its markets and gain a competition edge. This necessitated the development of both people and technology, in particular nanotechnology, which was currently growing in strength, he said.

Predicting that in the future nanotechnology would lead to materials that were one hundred times stronger than steel, but considerably lighter, Thaksin said that nanotechnology would also lead to the discovery of cures for cancer. He pledged that the government would entrust the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) with the establishment of a nanotechnology center, with nanotechnology experts leaving their government paperwork aside to conduct full-time research. (TNA)


SMEs to develop software industry

The Office of Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion (SMEs) has declared its backing for the development of Thailand’s software industry in the SME sector, according to the Office’s director Chanwit Chansilpa.

Noting that the Office has 5 billion baht in funding to develop Thailand’s industry capabilities, Chanwit said that the software sector was one branch for which the Office was providing complete and unconditional support. However, he stressed that anyone wanting to invest in the software industry needed innovations with industrial potential, and that requests for funding would have to be accompanied by clear business and marketing plans.

Requests for funding will be considered by the Office within 60 days of the submission of documents, with the amount of money granted ranging anywhere between one million and 100 million baht.

The Office meanwhile has pledged that it will not interfere in the way in which software SMEs are managed, but will act to check whether or not the SMEs are operating in accordance with their plans.

Specialist technology advisors will be on hand to give suggestions, although their support will be withdrawn if a company’s performance suggests that such advice is no longer needed. The Office has also agreed to provide support for the mobilization of capital for listing on the Stock Exchange of Thailand. (TNA)


Cabinet gives nod to 130 billion-plus stimulus budget

The Cabinet has approved a budget of 135.5 billion baht aimed at stimulating the economy and providing compensation for civil servants taking early retirement. Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said that the budget had been divided into five parts.

The first part of 33.04 million baht has been earmarked for civil service pensions, while the second part of 14.59 million has been earmarked for early retirement programs. The third part of 16.57 billion will be give over as compensation to state officials, the fourth part of 59 billion will be used to boost national competitiveness, and the final part of 12.3 billion baht will be given to local administrative organizations.

The money will become available at the beginning of March 2004. The government hopes that the budget will act to ensure the continuity of earlier economic stimulus measures, while helping civil servants who want to take up new careers in the private sector.

Pledging that the government would not abandon civil servants taking early retirement, Somkid said that career training would be provided, and that the government would find sources of capital for government workers wanting to leave the civil service to set up new enterprises. (TNA)


Rush to plant rice as prices soar

Farmers across the north and northeast of the country are rushing to plant off-season paddy in the hope of gaining extra revenue from rising rice prices, according to the Office of Agricultural Economics. With off-season rice with 14.15 percent humidity now selling for 4,693 baht per ton, up 206 baht on last year’s prices, farmers are trying to jump on the bandwagon.

But the Office of Agricultural Economics has warned that by over-planting, the farmers could be doing themselves a disservice, with insufficient water to meet the rising demands of cultivation.

The Office is advising farmers in the north and northeast to cultivate soy beans during the dry season, as they need less water to grow, and supply is currently running below domestic demand. In 2003 Thailand imported 1.856 million tons of soy beans, despite the fact that soy beans are cultivated domestically. (TNA)


Thai cuisine rated 4th in world’s top five

For lovers of Thai classics such as ‘tom yam kung’, ‘phad Thai’ and som tam’, the international popularity of Thai food will come as no surprise. In fact, Thai food is the fourth most popular type of cuisine in the world, with over 6,000 Thai restaurants across the globe.

The announcement was made by an advisor to Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, during a tour of Los Angeles and New York, where he presented ‘Thai Select’ certificates to US-based Thai restaurants chosen for the excellent quality of their food and service.

Thai cuisine was rated among the world’s top five, together with French food, Italian food, Japanese food and Chinese food.

A total of 45 US-based restaurants have now received ‘Thai Select’ certification. Of the restaurants selected, three are in Chicago, six in New York, five in Miami, two in Atlanta, six in San Francisco, three in Sacramento and 20 in Los Angeles. (TNA)



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