Central bank urged not to raise policy interest rate too sharply
The Bank of Thailand (BoT) Monetary Policy Committee
should be wary of raising the policy interest rate by more than 0.5 per cent
in the second half of this year, according to a leading economic forecaster.
Thanawat Palavichai, director of the University of Thai Chamber of Commerce
(UTCC) Economic and Business Forecasting Center, said a survey was conducted
on business conditions for the first half and projecting the outlook for the
second half of this year by seeking the opinions of 400 entrepreneurs from
It found that total sales and profits had dropped by 47 per cent and 69 per
cent, respectively, while costs had increased by 14 per cent. The survey
also forecast that the total sales and profits would plunge by 45 per cent
and 58 per cent respectively in the second half of the year, while costs
would rise by 7 per cent for the whole year.
Key factors relating to business performance included the rising fuel
prices, political instability, currency exchange rates, higher prices and
production costs for products, the public’s purchasing power, interest
rates, and confidence among investors and consumers.
The survey showed that slightly over one-third - 35 per cent - of Thailand’s
entrepreneurs believed that the business performance would deteriorate in
the second half of the year while 33 per cent believed it would pick up.
Most expected the farm, food, petroleum and vehicle sectors to improve in
the second half of the year.
Thanawat said what entrepreneurs want the government to address urgently are
the problems of soaring oil prices that adversely affect transport
overheads, political challenges, unstable currency exchange rates, higher
interest rates and general unrest in the country.
The business community wants to see the baht stay at 33 to the US dollar and
the lending rate at 7.5 per cent per annum.
Dr. Thanawat said he personally believes that if the central bank’s monetary
committee sees the need to raise the policy interest rate, they should not
increase it by more than 50 base points.
He also forecast that the country’s economy would grow 4.5 per cent in the
second half of the year and overall was likely to expand by about 5 per cent
for the whole year. (TNA)
“The environmental issues of Chiang Mai”
Residents gather at monthly meeting
Once a month, a group of foreign and Thai residents of Chiang Mai gather
at the Art Museum to discuss their environmental and other concerns with
the Mayor of Chiang Mai and members of her administrative staff.
At this month’s meeting, held on July 1 and attended by 65 people, (55
Thais and 10 expats), discussions focused on the environment. Present at
the meeting were Dr. Somchote Ong-Sakul , (CMU), representatives from
the Chiang Mai Cycling Club, Dr. Jermpol, (CMU), Dr.Wasan, (CMU)
,members of Chiang Mai Friends Group and Chiang Mai Expats Club and
Pakee,(Kon Rak Chiang Mai).
Topics for the meeting were cycling lanes in the city, stressing
cooperation from local police in forbidding cars to park in cycling
lanes; improving the city’s pavements; controlling the use of billboards
and tidying electricity cables; increasing “green areas” in the city by
planting more trees, flowers, etc; improving the public transport system
by providing more buses and routes, and making available comprehensive
maps of the city.
The meeting was told that the Mayor and her team will be speaking with
local police commanders about finding a solution to Chiang Mai’s
worsening traffic problems. On general topics, an information centre
will be set up to enable citizens to inform the Mayor and municipality
officials about any problems or complaints, and to suggest solutions. It
is important that all work together to solve environmental problems. The
email address for the centre is forchiangmai @gmail.com; residents are
invited to use this new service, as now is the time to do, not talk!
The next meeting will be held on August 5; all meetings are held in the
Thai language. However, for those who do not speak Thai and who wish to
attend, please apply to join Chiang Mai Friends. Your complaints and
suggestions can be sent to the Mayor through the group, and a Thai
speaker will translate for you during the meeting.
Sop Moei Arts - a fascinating history
30 years of support and friendship to Pwo Karen
Sop Moei Arts will be bringing a selection of their lovely and original
Pwo Karen textile goods and baskets from their shop on Chareonrajd Road
to show at the special Shopping Mall being set up for the Hillside 4
Charity Rooftop Party’s Fashion Show on Aug 27. The history of this
highly successful project is fascinating, and began 30 years ago as an
attempt to improve the health of Pwo Karen mothers and children living
in a remote village area amidst the spectacular mountain scenery of Mae
Hong Son, some 300 kilometres from Chiang Mai, and, at that time, almost
Kent Gregory and his wife Britt-Marie had arrived in Mae To La, one of
18 tribal villages in the immediate area, intending to start a clinic
for young children - it soon became obvious that their first priority
would be to learn the Pwo Karen language, as the villagers could not
speak Thai! Happily, that and other obstacles were soon overcome by the
couple’s determination, with the result that the original clinic became
a “mobile” health service encompassing 15 villages - the “mobility”
being provided by elephants!
After ten years in the village, Kent, having already determined that the
next step for the villagers would be to become self-sufficient,
persuaded five village women to join in a textile-weaving project. A
six-year grant was received from SIDA, new looms were set up, and Sop
Moie Arts became a reality. The Pwo Karen weavers’ skills were second to
none, both in textiles and in basket weaving; however, the simpler
traditional designs were utilised, and the local market for such
products proved limited. Development came gradually, and even involved
the help of foreign textile designers who advised on colour selection
and an expansion of style for use in modern homes and lives. In 1990, as
the textile project had become successful, Kent introduced traditional
woven baskets into the programme. With both projects, scrupulous
attention has always been paid to quality, detail, design and innovation
- the result is that the Pwo Karen villagers are now self-sufficient;
they eat better food, their health is improved, their children are
better clothed and they have better houses.
From the five Pwo Karen women who originally joined the project 18 years
ago, there are now nearly 70 weavers, both men and women, in eight
villages. Another thirty men weave baskets. Villagers’ pride in their
skills and their traditional arts promotes a strong motivation to
produce goods of the highest quality. Sop Moie Arts is a non-profit
organisation; the income it earns is ploughed back into the communities,
and a proportion is allotted to an educational fund for Pwo Karen
students who wish to continue their education at a higher level than
that provided by village schools. A quote from the project’s book, “The
world of Sop Moie Arts” says it all, “The road to the future lies ahead,
but echoes of the past still linger. As the Pwo Karen face a multitude
of changes, they do so with pride in their unique identity, remaining
faithful to important cultural traditions and holding fast to their most
Charity Gala in memory of the Thai “Father of Law”
Thai legal circles remember HRH Prince Rapee Patannasak
Organizers, designers and models at last
week’s press conference,
held to publicise the upcoming Charity Gala in memory of Prince Rapee.
August 7 is celebrated in Thai legal circles as a memorial day in
recognition of the work of HRH Prince Rapee Patannasak (1874-1920),
known as the “Father of Law” in Thailand for his creation of the
modern-day Thai legal system. This year in Chiang Mai, members of the
judiciary, prosecutors, police, lawyers and law students will join
together to organize an evening charity gala to pay tribute to HRH
Prince Rapee and to raise funds for the foundation which bears his name.
Mayuree Jamigranont, chief of judges in Region 5 and President of the
Rapee Foundation, will chair the event, which is being organised by
Komgrit Wannapaiboon; chief of judges in the Juvenile and Family Court.
The gala evening will be held in the Grand Hall of the Empress
Convention Center and will begin at 6:00 pm on the 3rd floor lobby -
soft drinks, light snacks and a short live performance will be provided.
During dinner, guests will be entertained by the band of the 33rd
Regiment; after dinner the entertainment will continue with competition
winners B-Boy Band and a one-hour concert of popular music given by the
well-known Palapol Polgongseng. At 9 pm, guests will be treated to a
fashion show, with sponsors Tananan Wilson, Yodaya, Jolie Femme, Classic
Model and Fai Ngam providing the beautiful outfits, shown by honorary
models including George Sioris, Dararat Shinawatra, Michael & Shannon J.
Morrow, and Rachan Verapan, the honorary consul for Bangladesh, with his
son. Young celebrities in Chiang Mai will also be modelling, as will
their parents, and Maross’s fashion designer will be providing outfits
for 2008’s 10 loveliest young university students. At 10 pm, there will
be dancing, and the evening will end with the drawing of door prizes at
11 pm. A delightful evening is promised - a fitting memorial for HRH
Payap’s “Students in Free Enterprise” team’s success in national contest
2nd Runners-Up aid Karen coffee-growers to improve businesses
Payap University’s “Students in Free Enterprise” team, recruited
from students at the International College, travelled to Bangkok
recently to represent the university in the 2008 Annual National SIFE
contest, competing against teams from 22 other Thai universities. First
place went to Silpakorn University, whose team will compete in the SIFE
World Cup contest to be held in Singapore this October. The 1st
runners-up were the Chiang Mai University team, followed by the team
from Payap University who were second runners-up - a great result for
Chiang Mai, as the two teams placed higher than teams from such highly
regarded places of education as Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.
SIFE is an international organisation that mobilises university students
from around the world to make a difference in their communities whilst
developing their own skills in order to become socially responsible
business leaders. 47 countries’ student teams participate in their own
national contests, the USA’s being the largest with over 600 teams
Chua Yini Tamgelia (Tam) from Singapore, who led the Payap team,
mentioned that this was not the first time Payap had competed, as two
previous projects had been entered, the first of which, a home stay
project for a village in Doi Saket district, had taken them into that
year’s semi-finals, and another project at Ban Pa Pai village, where the
team taught simple business concepts to children aged 7 to 12 years.
The project which secured their success in the 2008 contest was striking
in its common-sense approach. Called “Tobeebay Coffee” it was designed
to help coffee growers in the Karen Hill Tribe communities around
Northern Thailand to be more self sufficient and to improve the returns
from their coffee businesses. One village, Mae Klang Luang in Chiang
Mai’s Chomthong district, was chosen as a model to conduct their
research; once their findings prove successful, they can apply what they
learned in Mae Klang Luang in other Karen Hill Tribe coffee-growing
Typically, villagers grow the coffee and sell to Chiang Mai buyers at a
very low price. The buyer then sells the coffee in Chiang Mai for a
higher price than he gave. Basic business economics - but - the growers
were aware that, to get better prices for their crop and increase their
self-reliance, they would have to change their business practices!
Which, of course, is where the Payap SIFE team came in, suggesting and
helping design new and more attractive packaging, encouraging better
marketing skills and a higher level of quality control in the roasting
process and giving essential knowledge and success skills in the fields
of entrepreneurship, accounting, production and business ethics.
According to the team, the villagers were extremely cooperative and
happy to be in the project. Although the contest is now over, Payap’s
SIFE team is still working with Mae Klang Luang in order to ensure the
success of the newly re-structured venture.
The 2008 Payap University SIFE Team was composed of the following
Chua Yini Tamgelia, Naw Hser Mu Paw, Ubollux Ariyakul, Suttida
Sudadokfah, Puttapaun Tanruangpaun, Kedwajee Rungson, Kannika
Maichomphu, David Sala, Kafira Nitida Lake, Naw Purity, Phyo Teiza Aung,
Josiane Thaise Mohler, Richard Mark Hefner and Wu Qi. Congratulations to
Special thanks go to Payap’s SIFE Advisors: Dr. Tatikul Chaiwun (Dean of
Business Administration Faculty), Dr. Somboon Panyakom (Head of IMBA
Program), Sunisa Kotchasee (Head of IBM Department), Kankajit Koomsorn
(Instructor IBM Department), and Narutup Euatrongchit (Instructor of IBM
Thai exporters urged to upgrade seafood products to EU standard
Thailand’s Foreign Trade Department has warned exporters to improve
their monitoring of standards in producing and processing seafood and
fishery products in order to meet the quality standards set by the
Director-General Apiradi Tantraporn, reporting from Brussels, said that
the EU might consider banning imports of frozen seafood from some
countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations due to concerns
over hygiene issues. Apiradi stated that many seafood and fishery
products, including frozen shrimp and canned or frozen squid, had been
examined since January 1 by EU officials, who had found that some
products were not meeting the set standard. The products concerned have
been placed on the European agency’s warning list. She warned that Thai
exporters should take care to produce seafood and fishery products that
meet the required standards. Any suspect products may risk an import ban
Thailand’s inflation likely to hit double digits in August
Thailand’s inflation rate is likely to rise above 9 per cent this month
and penetrate the double-digit ‘ceiling’ in August due to the continued
rise in consumer product prices fuelled by relentlessly rising fuel
prices, according to the Kasikorn Research Centre. The leading think
tank reported that the general inflation rate in June surged to 8.9 per
cent, somewhat higher than the 8.5 per cent forecast earlier by many
analysts. It is the highest level in almost a decade.
The country’s core inflation rate soared to 3.6 per cent, Thailand’s
highest in almost 10 years. It is also the first time the rate has
stayed above the inflation target range of 0-3.5 per cent set by the
Bank of Thailand. KRC predicts that core inflation will exceed 4 per
cent in August and stay higher at 4.5-5 per cent at the end of the year.
The issue will definitely be discussed by the Monetary Policy Committee
on July 16 and at its subsequent meetings. KRC believes that the prices
of raw materials, particularly fuel, will continue increasing. The
global crude price is projected to move to US$150-170 per barrel during
the remainder of the United States summer, when oil demand is higher due
to heavy air-conditioning and holiday travel.
At the same time, domestic fuel prices are expected to increase as the
Thai government is due to reduce its subsidy, and the prices of
commodities such as steel and natural rubber are expected to rise
further. Given these factors, the producer price index in July might
surge above 20 per cent, the highest in almost 30 years.
KRC said the substantial overhead costs of entrepreneurs might push up
the consumer price index to 9 per cent in July and reach the
double-digit level in August. If that occurs, the index is likely to
stay high in the range of 9 per cent in the remaining months of the
year, resulting in the average inflation rate staying at 7.4-8 per cent
for 2008. (TNA)