HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

1,500 businesses to be surveyed for Value Added Index

Government to shave corporate tax for oil traders

Thais asked to help save energy

Chiang Rai pushing ahead with mega-development


PM promises overhaul of chicken industry

Central bank still worried about credit card debts

*** Advertorial ***: Horeca - one-step ahead again!

1,500 businesses to be surveyed for Value Added Index

The Thailand Productivity Institute is preparing to gather information from 1,500 businesses in 10 different industries around the country to work out the Value Added Index of the country.

The Thailand Productivity Institute held a seminar at Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel, Chiang Mai, where Thawatchai Tangsa-nga, the director, said the business productivity measurement is an important tool that entrepreneurs can use to estimate their international business capability and identify their strong and weak points in the running business, and develop in the right direction.

The director of Thailand Productivity Institute added that the government is behind the concept and the director begged the businesses to supply the exact information.

The institute would select 200 businesses as the pilot group and the assessment would run from February to September.

Government to shave corporate tax for oil traders

The government has approved a proposal to cut the corporate tax for oil trading companies from the present 30 % to 10 % to support Thailand’s initiative to become the energy hub in Southeast Asia. The bill is expected to be passed within two weeks.

The Ministry of Energy said it would use PTT Plc, PTT Exploration and Production Plc (PTTEP), and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) as the international investment arms for its plans to promote Thailand as an energy hub in the region.

Minister of Energy Prommin Lertsuridej, said the government aims to make the Kingdom a regional hub for electricity, oil, fuel, natural gas, petrochemicals, and cooking gas. Eventually Thailand plans to set up a link with Indo-China which would allow Thailand to supply electricity to other parts of Asia. (TNA)

Thais asked to help save energy

Energy Minister Prommin Lertsuridej is calling on Thai people to help save energy to ease the burden on the government’s fuel price cap. He said gasoline prices in the world market had begun to decline gradually since the Chinese New Year festival. However, diesel oil prices are slightly higher because the demand has increased in Europe, where the weather is now very cold.

The minister said he wanted people to help save fuel consumption since the government is using the Oil Fund to cap prices by spending around 1-2 baht per liter, or 80-90 million baht per day.

Dr. Prommin projected that the fuel situation would return to normal in the next two months, and the government would not need to cap fuel prices after that. He said, however, that the government’s measure on the fuel price cap had kept product prices in the market under control. (TNA)

Chiang Rai pushing ahead with mega-development

Chiang Saen port, motorway and cable cars

The future for Chiang Rai is rosy, according to Narin Panitchakitch, Chiang Rai governor. A clearer picture of the Chiang Rai development plan will be apparent this year, after the recent government approval for constructing and opening of the Chiang Saen river port on the Mekong River.

The development plan for the Chinese-Thai joint venture industrial estate in Chiang Saen district, is also expected to be approved by the authorities this year, and the Highways Department has also agreed to build the Chiang Mai-Chiang Rai motorway costing more than 10 billion baht.

Chiang Rai governor Narin discussed the mega-plan with Somjet Tercacoop, deputy secretary-general of National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB), Anchalee Chawanitch, governor of Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand, Charndej Wongcharoen, deputy director of the 2nd Highway District Office, Thwalrath Ornsira, deputy director-general of Water Transport and Water Commerce department and other government agencies at Chiang Rai City hall.

Reviews were also made of the development strategies for trade and investment projects with the neighboring countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitrak is instrumental in pushing this development, especially the establishment of a special border economic zone including the Thai-Chinese industrial estate.

The meeting also discussed the Thai-Lao friendship bridge to be built across the Mekong River in Chiang Khong district, and a connecting road linking Thailand, Laos and south China, which is expected to be finished by 2007.

Another development project is a cable car system linking Thailand, Burma and Laos.

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PM promises overhaul of chicken industry

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has pledged a radical overhaul of Thai chicken farming methods in response to the avian flu crisis, saying that farmers will be encouraged to turn to closed farming methods to prevent similar epidemics in the future.

The prime minister unveiled a raft of long-term measures to stem off the swelling tide of concern that avian flu could strike again.

Speaking in Suphan Buri Province, which has been worst affected by the flu outbreak, Thaksin hinted of a mass vaccination program which would be carried out each year before the seasonal migration of ducks from China. But he also conceded that it would be necessary to kill all chickens to halt the immediate crisis.

“We will have to kill all chickens, as well as other kinds of poultry and partridges, even if they do not show signs of disease, in order to prevent the spread of the epidemic. This epidemic has now covered the entire province of Suphan Buri. We must act decisively. Chicken coops must be made free from chickens. They must be sprayed and abandoned for a while before they are used again,” Thaksin said.

“When this crisis is over, I will ask the Ministry of Agriculture and Agriculture Cooperatives to find ways to help farmers make the changes,” Thaksin said. (TNA)

Central bank still worried about credit card debts

The Bank of Thailand (BOT) has again expressed its concern over mounting debts in the credit card system, warning it would strictly oversee the issuance of credit cards by non-financial institutional companies unless the situation improved.

Tarisa Watanagase, Deputy Governor of the BOT’s Financial Institution Stability Group, said, “The credit card business has considerably expanded by around 16-17 percent from last year, and non-performing loans (NPLs) in the business have increased accordingly. At the end of September last year, the NPLs accounted for 6 percent of total debts. The normal level of NPLs in the system should be at 3-4 percent.”

The BOT said it will take time to study, and sort out the problem before issuing measures to deal with it, but Tarisa conceded it would be difficult to control spending through credit cards since people love to spend in a comfortable way. She added that unfortunately, many credit card holders are impulse-buyers and don’t use discipline in spending.

Tarisa said the BOT would attempt to oversee the credit card business in terms of consumer protection such as disclosure of information of card issuers, interest rate calculation, and debt burdens. She said the central bank was ready to strictly control the issuance of credit cards if loans in the business grew too fast.

Regarding hire-purchase loans of big-ticket items, the BOT views the situation less worrisome because consumers are more regimented with spending plans. (TNA)

*** Advertorial ***: Horeca - one-step ahead again!

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Horeca, who pride themselves on being the one stop distributor for hotels, announced that they are now the exclusive distributor of Surapon foods in Chiang Mai and have priority for the other Northern provinces.

Surapon Foods was established in 1977 and is one of the leading manufacturers and exporters of frozen seafood in Thailand. Their products include frozen seafood, Dimsum and a new product “frozen meal”. Surapon have diversified into many other varieties of frozen foods and seafood ranging from conventional seafood (shrimp, cuttlefish, squid), processed foods (steamed dim sum and deep fried items), sushi toppings (sushi ebi, cuttlefish, sliced eel, etc.), and breaded seafood (breaded shrimp, breaded fish fillet).

Their principles of food hygiene meet those of Horeca at the same level. Both companies only accept the highest standards throughout the entire handling chain, from producer to consumer.

Surapon Foods hold that freshness, preservation and the development of better product quality take priority in the production processes. They have received awards from both local and international organizations which attests to this fact. These include: ISO 9002 in 1998 and upgrade to ISO9001:2000 in 2003 Certified by Bureau Veritas Quality International (BVQI); Prime Minister’s Export Award Outstanding Performance as the Best Exporter in 1994 and 1998 for Distinctive Development and Marketing; HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) presented by Campden and Choieywood Food Research Association, England and The National Food Institute of Thailand; GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) grade A presented by Department of Fisheries and Pre-certification presented by Ministry of Health and Welfare Japan.