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Government to help Ratchaprasong employees, business operators

Northeast Indian state opens trade office in Bangkok

Government to help Ratchaprasong employees, business operators

Realizing that business operators and workers are suffering as a result of the business shutdown due to the anti-government protest occupying Ratchaprasong, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Sunday that his administration will offer assistance to them.

In his weekly TV address, Abhisit said his government had met with business operators and hoteliers operating in Ratchaprasong, Bangkok’s prime business district, on their business damage as a result of the protest and has decided to assist them regarding their cash-flow problem as well as finding ways to release certain non-durable goods.

Anti-government protesters of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship have rallied there since April 3 demanding Abhisit dissolve the House in 30 days and call for a fresh general election. Abhisit has turned down the demand.

Shops and deluxe hotels around Ratchaprasong intersection and nearby areas have temporarily closed down their businesses on concerns of safety and it is still unknown when they would reopen.

Abhisit said international agencies had forecast prior to the demonstration that the Thai economy this year will surpass its target and grow about 6.2 percent.

Concerned Thai government agencies would now have to revise downward the prediction as there is still no sign when the rally would end.

The tourism industry has been hit hardest as tourists and travel agencies canceled bookings for April and May, he said, so a remedy must be made urgently.

Stressing that it is necessary for his government to continue in office because it must solve poverty problems prevailing in Thailand and other policies, including free education for students, free medical and monthly allowance for aged people, Abhisit said his government must also prepare for the 2011 fiscal government expenditure, starting October 1.

“If the fiscal government expenditure happens to stop, every government policy will also cease and this would affect people, especially those underprivileged persons and low income earners,” said Abhisit.

Meanwhile, Wilaiwan Saetia, president of the Thai Labor Solidarity Committee, said hoteliers at Ratchaprasong began laying off temporary workers without compensation.

She said that the employers used loopholes in labor-related law in order to lay off the workers.

Temporary workers account for 10 percent of all employees in Ratchaprasong.

Ms Wilaiwan urged the government to assist the affected workers, but there is no report of laying off permanent employees.

She added that if the protest is prolonged, there will be more unemployment at the end of April. (TNA)

Northeast Indian state opens trade office in Bangkok

Top officials cut the ceremonial ribbon to launch the new office in Bangkok.

The Northeast Indian state of Assam has made its biggest step into the Southeast Asian market with the opening of an Industries and Trade Fair Association of Assam office in Bangkok.

ITFAA celebrated the opening with Made in Northeast India handicrafts show at the Fashion Island shopping mall at the end of March.

Thailand senior trade advisor Suthad Setboonsarng called the occasion a red-letter day for bilateral relations with northeast India.

“The workmanship of the artisans coming from the land of seven sisters is unbelievable. This show should become an annual event to cement the socio-cultural trade relationship between both the regions,” Setboonsarng said.

Madhukar Asnani, first commercial secretary at the Indian embassy, praised the workmanship of the northeast’s artisans and urged organizers to hold more exhibitions.

“It was a defining moment for rich handicraft industry of northeast India as artisans from the region competed with some of the best brands in the world at Fashion Island Shopping Mall, one of the best shopping centers in Southeast Asia, and stood their ground. The exhibition has definitely infused lots of confidence among the handicraft artisans of the region,” informed Rajesh Das, ITFAA vice president.

Amen Deka from Barpeta district in Assam, who had traveled abroad for the first time, could not control his emotions as he sold his small bamboo replica of a motorcycle just 20 minutes after the inauguration of the exhibition. “It took me six months to complete the replica and today the almighty has rewarded me in Bangkok. It is not the money but the appreciation of my skill and hard work in a foreign land,” he said.

An impressed Thai customer in a symbolic manner paid 100 baht over the list price while purchasing a Karbi shawl from the lone lady participant Nichaswari Rabha.

People thronged the colorful stall of Khandu Wangchuk from Sikkim, who was displaying exquisite Buddhist paintings. The visitors apart from appreciating his art also enjoyed discoursing on Buddhism with him.

Tharadol Thongruang, who was earlier with the Thai embassy in New Delhi and now promotes foreign trade in Thailand, was euphoric about building the strong branding of northeast India in Thailand. “The northeast has finally arrived in Thailand and Thai people are looking towards Northeast for strong ties and the credit goes to ITFAA for their continuous endeavor.”

The show, which attracted a large crowd on its first day, was organized with the support of the Embassy of India in Thailand, the Royal Thai Embassy New Delhi and the India-Thailand Trade Council of Thailand. The ITFAA office was opened with the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Thai Chamber of Commerce.

Anusorn Muttaraid, chairman of the Thailand-India Business Council said the office would play a crucial role in strengthening ties between the two regions. “Now the people of Thailand will not have to depend on Mumbai or Kolkata to get information about the northeast,” he said.

Rajesh Das, ITFAA vice president, said the agreement will allow both sides to better identify trade opportunities and identify products that can be well marketed in each country.

“One of the very important components of the agreement is to facilitate the artisans of the northeast in getting access to knowledge about the latest styles and designs used in Thailand and currently in demand in the global markets,” Das said. “Such collaborations in the handicraft and handloom sector will be a big boost for the region’s artisans and enable them to catch the global market.”