PM to open nation’s first community biodiesel plant
Thailand received its first community biodiesel
production plant last Saturday when Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
officially opened the project in the northern province of Chiang Mai.
The project represents a cooperative effort involving the
Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency and several
other bodies currently conducting research into the use of biodiesel as an
A pilot scheme for the project has seen the production
plant combine used oil from a potato chip factory with conventional diesel
fuel at a ratio of 2:98.
Able to produce 100,000 litres of the fuel each day, the
plant will cost the fuel Bt0.50 (50 satang) per litre below the price of
According to Boonthong Ungtrakul, head of Chiang Mai’s
biodiesel research project, tests on over 1,000 vehicles have shown that
biodiesel does not harm vehicle engines, and in fact reduces emissions.
Biodiesel is already on sale in two Chiang Mai petrol
stations, and will be sold in another three stations in the province by the
end of this month.
Research will now begin into formulas which use
proportionately more vegetable oil – much of it derived from local cafes -
and less diesel.
Glycerine, a by-product of the production process, will
also be used to make soap and shampoo in the future, when the Department of
Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency hopes to expand the project to
other areas. (TNA)
BOT unconcerned over movement of the baht
The governor of the Bank of Thailand (BOT), M.R.
Pridiyathorn Devakula has expressed satisfaction with the present movement
of the baht, as he considers the current value appropriate under the present
The central bank has intervened to support the baht and
ensure its stability after the local currency weakened rapidly over the past
week, he admitted to journalists on Thursday.
It has now begun to stabilise at a suitable level in the
current economic conditions, the BOT governor said.
The baht has depreciated by around 2% against the dollar
and 5% against the euro since the end of April.
The weakening of the baht is likely to lead to an
increase in Thailand’s exports to the European Union (EU) because they are
But a further depreciation in the baht would severely
affect exports to other destinations, except the United States, he said.
“We don’t want the baht to weaken too much but we are
committed to allowing the market mechanism to establish its exchange rate.
We also do not want the currency to strengthen too much because it will
affect the value of imports,” said the BOT chief.
The government’s decision to float diesel prices was
the right move as it is likely to help the country save on energy.
M.R. Pridiyathorn shrugged off mounting concern over
higher inflation. The central bank is well prepared to cope with inflation,
he said. (TNA)
‘Housewives hotline’ to help stop price hikes
The Department of Internal Trade last week called on
members of the public to help prevent retailers from raising the price of
consumer goods by phoning a ‘housewives’ hotline’.
The hotline has been set up amid fears that recent rises
in the prices of fuel could lead unscrupulous manufacturers and retailers to
hike the costs of their products despite a government ban.
Siripol Yodmuangcharoen, the department’s
director-general, conceded that prices were in a state of flux, but said
that the department was sending out teams of price inspectors to ensure that
consumers were treated fairly.
As part of the inspection scheme, the department is
calling on ordinary members of the public to form networks of volunteer
inspectors who can report their findings to department officials.
By phoning the ‘housewives’ hotline’ on 1569, these
volunteer inspectors can offer information on companies suspected of
violating the government’s price rise ban.
Siripol appealed for more members of the public to sign
up to the scheme, saying that public participation would facilitate the
department’s work and ensure that wrongdoers were brought to book.
Members of the networks are being offered the incentive
of cash prizes worth 30 percent of the fine levied on the retailers if they
come up with relevant information. (TNA)
Govt to set up new task force to probe finances of state officials
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra insisted that he would
press ahead with the establishment of a special task force aimed at probing
the finances of state officials.
The prime minister, who stressed that the new task force
would not duplicate the work of the National Counter Corruption Commission
(NCCC), said that the task force would, instead, relieve the commission of
some of its workload.
“The NCCC has nine members. They simply can’t cope.
There are over 2 million state officials, as well as state enterprise
workers,” he noted.
Not all state officials will have to declare their
finances to the new task force.
The new body will be specifically aimed at state
officials who work directly with the public, and who might run into
conflicts of interest.
Although the task force will deal with officials at all
levels, it will focus on officials holding positions which could be easily
open to corruption.
The prime minister said that he was currently trying to
decide who should sit on the committee, and had asked Deputy Prime Minister
Wissanu Krea-ngam to help oversee the issue.
Stressing that the new task force did not break
constitutional law, he said that it would not violate the personal freedoms
of state officials, and would only open up the files of officials who were
subject to complaints. (TNA)