Abhisit calls on govt to tackle adverse effects of 300-baht wage policy, claiming policy was first conceived by Democrats
BANGKOK, 18 February 2013 (NNT) - Opposition leader Abhisit
Vejjajiva has urged the government to come up with measures to
tackle the adverse effect of the 300-baht minimum wage policy,
while also claiming that the Democrat party was the first to
come up with a policy to raise workers' income, but that the
policy was adopted by the rival Puea Thai party. At a public
forum held at the Democrat party headquarters, the Opposition
leader said that the government's 300-baht minimum wage policy
is not the "final answer" for Thai workers. He said the policy
has a number of undesirable consequences, including lay-offs and
illegal employments. He said that the government, in
implementing the policy, was envisaging only the policy's
immediate consequences, without considering its longer-term
effects. He added that his party had always pushed for policies
that would help workers develop skills, with the aim of raising
their income, but that the policy was hijacked by his rival Puea
Thai party. Moreover, Mr Abhisit said that, contrary to the
simplicity of its name, Puea Thai's minimum wage policy has many
conditions attached to it. Meanwhile, Vice President of Uni
Thailand, a labour advocate group, echoes Mr Abhisit's concern
that the policy has resulted in unemployment because of
companies closing down. But she also raised another concern -
that is, that many workers are not currently receiving 300 baht
per day as prescribed.
Two committees to work on Thai-EU FTA talks
BANGKOK, Feb 18 – A joint meeting of the state and private
sectors on Monday agreed to form two committees to plan a
framework of Thailand European Union Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
negotiation, said Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom.
Monday’s meeting of government officials and the Thai Chamber of
Commerce took place on the eve of Prime Minister Yingluck
Shinawatra's March 4-6 European visit when the Thai-EU FTA will
get a go-ahead.
Mr Boonsong said the two committee, to be chaired by the
commerce permanent-secretary, are an ad-hoc committee of state,
private and social sectors responsible for exchanging
information on the matter and the other committee to facilitate
the private sector on trade.
The budget will be allocated from the export promotion fund.
He stressed that European economic problems will not negatively
impact the FTA negotiations as it is believed that any problems
will be resolved soon.
The minister also said he believes the FTA talks will be
advantageous for Thailand as it will help offset the Generalised
System of Preferences (GSP), which will end at the end of 2014.
Meanwhile, Chairman Pongsak Assakul, Thai Chamber of Commerce
said it is good that the state sector pay attention to the
The private sector will hold a seminar on April 29 to gather
stakeholder opinions on the free trade talks before further
discussion with the state sector takes place. (MCOT online news)
Thai economy set to grow 4.5-5.5% this year: NESDB
BANGKOK, Feb 18 - The Thai economy expanded 6.4 per cent last
year and is expected to grow 4.5-5.5 per cent this year, the
National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) reported
The economy surged 18.9 per cent in the last quarter compared to
a slump in the corresponding period in 2011 when devastating
floods disrupted output by manufacturers, the agency said.
Akom Termpittayapaisit, NESDB chief, said this year's export
growth may expand 11 per cent with domestic consumption, and
investments are expected to rise 3.5 and 8.9 per cent
Inflation is likely to stay within the range of 2.5-3.5 per
cent, he said.
Mr Akom noted that the positive trend of improving global
economy could be a boon for Thai exports. The growth in the
first half of this year is likely to be driven mainly by rising
domestic demand as well as the government's first-time car
buyers scheme which helps boost local purchasing power.
In addition,the government's mega infrastructure projects will
inject a huge amount of cash into the economy, in particular the
flood-prevention and water management budget, he said.
Expansion of labour-intensive industries could be limited by
rising costs of production as a result of the 300 baht minimum
wage, he said, adding that the wage hike would help improve
workers' quality of life.
Among key risk factors pressuring the Thai economy this year,
the NESDB chief expressed concern over the influx of foreign
capital resulting in the appreciating Thai baht which has risen
2.7 per cent this year. (MCOT online news)
Central bank praises Govt’s infrastructure investment
BANGKOK, 18 February 2013 (NNT) - The Bank of Thailand (BoT) has
pointed out that the government’s infrastructure investment is
stimulating growth in the country’s real estate sector.
Director of the Office of Monetary Policy of the central bank
Songtham Pinto said on Monday that the overall property market
in 2013 would still be able to expand due to infrastructure
investment from the public sector and the continuously growing
Thai economy. Other factors that will benefit real estate
include the minimum wage increase and a low jobless rate. All
these factors would contribute to people’s higher confidence to
spend, the executive said.
However, Mr Songtham warned that the global economy’s volatility
would remain a risk factor that should be monitored, saying he
hoped there would be no global economic crisis that affected the
real estate sector. If the sector was hit, the whole economic
system would also feel the blow of the crisis as it was labor
Transport Ministry holds public hearing on construction of high speed train
UDON THANI, 18 February 2013 (NNT)-The Ministry of Transport has
invited public participation in a meeting that allows stake
holders in the planned construction of a high speed rail between
Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima to air their views on likely
impacts from the project to their daily life.
The meeting, organized by the Office of Transport and Traffic
Policy and Planning of the Ministry of Transport, is the fourth
in a series after similar hearings were conducted in Nakhon
Nayok, Saraburi and Nakhon Ratchasima.
Those attending the meeting included local administrators,
members of the private sector, educational institutions and
people living in the areas to be affected by the rail
construction. They were divided into groups, and their opinions
would be compiled for use in the improvement of the project to
ensure maximum benefits to the people when it is built.
The hi-speed train project is developed to improve and enhance
transportation systems in the four parts of the country. It is
also expected to encourage manufacturers to set up their
production bases along the rail routes.
The Cabinet last year gave nod to the construction of 4
high-speed railways between Bangkok-Chiang Mai, Bangkok-Nakhon
Ratchasima, Bangkok-Hua Hin and between Suvarnabhumi Aiport and
Pattaya. The high speed trains are expected to help reduce
traffic congestion, road accidents and the cost of energy as
they are running on electricity. It is expected that the project
will save energy cost in the transport sector by at least 6
billion baht per year.
NESDB predicts Thai economy to grow by 4.5-5.5%, inflation at 2.5-3.5% in 2013
BANGKOK, 18 Febraury 2013 (NNT) - The Office of the National
Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) estimates that the
Thai economy in 2013 will grow at the rate of 4.5-5.5%.
The think-tank's secretary-general Akom Termpitayapaisit said
that the major drives for the nation's economic growth will be
the recovery of the US, European and Chinese economies, the
government's investment projects, the recovery of the
electronics and computer industries, and the healthy domestic
The think-tank, meanwhile, predicts that this year's exports
will grow by 11% and inflation to stay low at 2.5-3.5%.
As to risk factors, Mr Akom said that capital outflows and an
unstable baht will pose a serious risk to the economy. He
emphasizes that a strong or a weak baht will not pose as much
risk as an unstable baht.
Regarding the possibility of using monetary policies to
stimulate further growth, Mr Akom said that interest rate
adjustments may be used to stimulate growth, but they will come
at some costs. In his opinion, the present economic conditions
do not warrant such drastic measures,he said.
BoT introduces three measures to tackle strong baht
BANGKOK, 18 February 2013 (NNT) - The Bank of Thailand (BoT) has
revealed three measures to tackle the strong baht, all aimed at
encouraging baht holders to use the baht to buy more foreign
The BoT is reportedly in the process of authorising three
measures to weaken the baht. The first measure is to lift the
limit on the amount of investment that SMEs and individual
investors can invest in foreign properties. Earlier SMEs and
individual investors had to ask for authorisation from the BoT
for any investment larger than 50 million US dollars.
The second measure is to allow those with loans in foreign
currencies to buy and deposit foreign currencies in their
accounts, in amounts no larger than the size of their loans.
The third measure is to lift the limit on the amount of money
that may be transfered outside of the country, previously capped
at 2,000 US dollars per transaction. The measure will allow
transfers of funds of any amount according to the transferer's
need, subject to authorisation by the BoT.
The measures came after the Finance Ministry pressured on the
BoT to urgently solve the problem of the strong baht. Commenting
on the current situation, Assistant to the BoT Governor on
Financial Markets, Chantawan Sucharitkul said that there would
still be an influx of capital into the country in April, but the
it would not be as strong as that in March.
As for capital control measures, Ms Chantawan said the BoT "does
not consider a capital control measure appropriate at this
point", pointing out that the BoT has different levels of
measures suitable for different levels of imbalances.
Energy agencies prepares for Myanmar’s gas supply disruption in April
BANGKOK, Feb 16 – Energy minister Pongsak Raktapongpaisal will
call on a meeting with related agencies next week in preparation
to handle Myanmar’s gas supply suspension from April 4-12.
Myanmar plans to suspend natural gas delivery of 1.1 billion
cubic feet per day to Thailand in order to repair drilling rigs
at the Yadana gas field.
The meeting will discuss measures to be put in place in case of
an emergency, the minister said.Those measures include sourcing
alternative fuel to offset shortfall and asking for cooperation
from the public to reduce electricity usage.
Agencies concerned will be instructed to reserve liquefied
natural gas (LNG) imports.The possibility to resume operations
of mothballed diesel power plants will be discussed at the
meeting, he said adding that switching to fuel oil and diesel to
produce electricity will increase costs. (MCOT online news)
Port workers shun working overtime, demand boss removal
BANGKOK, Feb 16 – Workers of the state-operated Port Authority
of Thailand (PAT) declared their refusal to work overtime this
weekend and pressed for the dismissal of director general Viroj
Chongchansittho, who was charged with mismanagement and creating
The PAT labour union announced that 500-600 stevedores will not
work beyond official working hours, starting from 4.30 pm Friday
The threat prompted shipping companies to call for an immediate
solution to the labour dispute, or their logistics costs would
be severely affected.
Charae Meedanu, PAT labour union leader, said the stevedores
will resume their regular working hours on Monday morning and
some importers/exporters have been informed of their move.
The labour union called on the PAT management to suspend the
employment of Mr Viroj and demanded that PAT give overdue
overtime payment to employees.
The PAT board of directors is scheduled to have its regular
meeting on Monday and a review of Mr Viroj’s performance is on
the agenda. Mr Viroj’s employment term is due to expire in April
Paiboon Polsuwanna, chairman of the Thai National Shippers’
Council, said exporters hope the conflict will last only a few
days, or their logistics costs will surge.
Over the last several years, exporters have done their best in
meeting deadlines in their product delivery and even requested
round-the-clock stevedores’ service, he said. (MCOT online news)
TCC urges govt to conclude FTA negotiations with EU
BANGKOK, 14 February 2013 (NNT) - The Thai Chamber of Commerce
(TCC) is urging the government to swiftly conclude negotiations
on a free-trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union ahead of
the establishment of a U.S.-EU trade agreement.
US President Barack Obama issued a press release on Wednesday,
announcing the start of the negotiations on Transatlantic Trade
and Investment Partnership between EU and US. Once signed, the
economic partnership between the two regions will account for
half of the global economic output and nearly one trillion
dollars in goods and services trade.
TCC president Pongsak Atsakul said the government should not
further delay negotiations as the country will not stand to reap
maximum benefits from the planned US-EU free trade agreement for
all sectors involved. He added that the FTA with the EU itself
will help maintain Thailand's competitiveness and support
long-term trade and investment.
Last month, the cabinet has approved a framework for the free
trade agreement which is set to prevent an exclusion of Thailand
from the generalised system of preferences (GSP) in 2015 and the
transfer of EU investment bases from Thailand to neighbouring
countries. Critics have remarked however that the framework is
expected to put Thailand at a disadvantage, particularly on drug
patents and intellectual property.
Gov't expands village fund scheme with new Bt15 billion injection
BANGKOK, Feb 15 – A fresh allocation of Bt15 billion will be
granted to the village fund project to spur the economy at the
grassroots level, according to a cabinet member.
Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office Varathep Ratanakorn said
the money will be distributed to 15,000 village funds, each
having a start-up cash flow of Bt1 million.
Combined with an earlier amount of Bt21 billion earmarked to
21,000 village funds, the total money circulated in rural
communities nationwide is Bt36 billion, he said.
He said the Government Savings Bank, the Bank of Agriculture and
Agricultural Cooperatives and Krung Thai Bank have been assigned
to facilitate villagers in managing their respective funds and
setting financial discipline among fund members.
Mr Varathep said the village fund scheme has stimulated
financial circulation, spending and investments in rural areas,
covering 13 million people under the project.
The government aims for a total of 80,000 village funds
throughout the country but inefficient and mismanaged funds must
be developed with the final objective of allowing
self-management among fund members, the minister said, citing
some successful funds which have boosted their Bt1 million
capital to Bt10 million.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra officially launched the Bt15
billion new allocation in a colourful event in Chiang Mai on
Thursday and expressed her appreciation to some fund operators
who sharply increased their capital to Bt50-100 million.
The village fund project, the brainchild of former prime
minister Thaksin Shinawatra, has been in existence for 11 years,
currently with 79,255 local funds nationwide. (MCOT online news)
Energy Ministry to expand NGV pipeline network across Thailand
BANGKOK, 15 February 2013 (NNT) – The Energy Ministry is set to
expand the natural gas vehicle (NGV) pipeline network throughout
the country in order to enable consumers in the upcountry to
enjoy energy at the same prices as Bangkok residents.
Energy Minister Pongsak Ruktapongpisal, on Thursday, chaired the
launch of the project aimed at educating and hearing opinions of
energy business operators, which kicked off with a seminar.
Mr. Pongsak said that the seminar was organized to encourage
both state offices and private companies involved in energy
business to exchange ideas while offering more knowledge on
efficient energy use to them.
He added that the Energy Ministry is reviewing a plan to have
the Department of Energy Business in charge of the expansion of
the NGV pipeline network to other parts of the country and the
extension of oil pipelines to the North and the Northeast.
The Energy Minister stated that such a project will allow people
in every corner of Thailand an opportunity to enjoy fuel and
energy at similar prices paid by Bangkok consumers.
According to the Energy Minister, the expansion work is set to
be completed before the end of this year and becomes operational
within 3 years.
In addition, the Energy Ministry is pushing hard with its
clampdown on those found smuggling gas drilled in Thailand to
SRT invests 234 mill baht to revamp JJ market
BANGKOK, 15 February 2013 (NNT) – The State Railway of Thailand
(SRT) has announced a 234-million-baht plan to revamp Chatuchak
(JJ) weekend market, with construction set to begin in March.
Deputy director for operations and Chatuchak market director
Jaraspan Wacharothai said that after one year under the SRT’s
management, the weekend market is set to undergo a landscaping
renovation, with plans to improve pathways, sign posts and water
The first phase of the plan will commence in March with an
initial investment of 114 million baht. Pathways will be retiled
and new signs will be erected in a bid to facilitate Thai and
foreign visitors. The construction is scheduled to conclude in
Another renovation project is poised to kick start in October,
focusing on improving draining systems and roofing.
Mr Jaraspan added that the market generates over 38 million baht
in revenue per month for the SRT, compared to the market’s
annual revenue of 20 million baht when it was under the Bangkok
Metropolitan Administration. He further hinted that a rent hike
for trading stalls is being considered by the SRT but details
have not been finalized.
Central bank brushes aside allocation from national budget
BANGKOK, Feb 14 – The Bank of Thailand (BoT) gave assurances
today that it is capable of managing its Bt530 billion budget
deficit without having to touch the national coffers.
BoT Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul emphasised the central
bank’s role in maintaining the country’s economic and financial
stability, saying that any evaluation of the BoT’s performance
is based on the nation’s economic stability rather than on
He said the accumulated Bt530 billion deficit was due to the
central bank’s interventions in the appreciating Thai currency
and losses from the 2 per cent interest margin.
Such losses can be managed by the BoT without having to disturb
money from the public’s taxes, he said.
Regarding conflicts with the Finance Ministry on policies about
inflows of foreign capital, Mr Prasarn said that different
opinions are normal in every country and it is constructive as
it leads to an understanding of all negative impacts.
Both the Finance Ministry and BoT are concerned with the capital
movement which can lead to a financial bubble if it is
excessive, he said.
Mr Prasarn pointed out that low interest rate may lead to a
bubble phenomenon in the real estate sector and the stock market
due to profit speculations while high interest rates may trigger
profit speculations in the bond market.
“We have to make a balance, and the interest rate is not the
only element that stimulates an inflow of overseas capital,” the
BoT governor said. “Investors take several elements into
consideration. In Thailand, sentiment is the most crucial risk
factor for investment.”
He gave reassurances that the central bank is equipped with
several levels of financial mechanism to stabilise the nation’s
financial system. (MCOT online news)
Agriculture Min to continue egg price stabilization
BANGKOK, 14 February 2013 (NNT) – The Ministry of Agriculture
and Cooperatives is keen to extend the egg price stabilizing
project until the end of this year, claiming the project has
been very effective in solving an oversupply of eggs in the
Agriculture Minister Yukol Limlamthong revealed that egg
situation in the market is now stabilizing. The price of mixed
sized eggs sold at the farm is at 2.8 baht, while the production
cost is around 2.71 baht per egg. Last year, the government
allocated 126 million baht for the project.
Since the egg price stabilizing project is coming to an end in
March, the government is now considering whether it should
extend the time frame until year end.
The minister said he had assigned the Department of Livestock
Development to take control of the number of laying hens, after
finding that there was an oversupply of eggs in the market,
which could result in a decline of egg prices in the future.
Commerce Min to promote high-quality rice in Europe, Mideast markets
BANGKOK, 14 February 2013 (NNT) – The Department of Foreign
Trade (DFT) has planned to send representatives to join major
trade fairs related to rice in Germany and UAE, with an aim to
promote high-quality Thai rice among foreigners.
According to DFT Director-General Pranee Siripan, rice
representatives will attend the World Organic Trade Fair, or
Biofach 2013, in Germany during February 13-16; as well as
Gulfood 2013, the world’s biggest annual food and hospitality
exhibition, in United Arab Emirates during February 25-28.
For the Biofach, the representatives will showcase Thai organic
rice and products from organic rice, and discuss business
opportunities with prospective buyers. The director-general
hoped that Thai organic rice producers could make inroads into
the European market, which is known for customers with high
purchasing power and those who prefer healthful food.
In 2012, Thailand exported 3,200 tons of organic jasmine rice to
Europe, accounting for 76% of all Thai exported organic jasmine
rice. The target is on Europeans with Asian descents.
As for the Gulfood, the department aims to promote high- quality
products, including jasmine, organic, and geographical
indication (GI) rice, which is high in nutrition, among Arab
buyers with high purchasing powers, and the UAE , which is the
product distribution center for to other Middle Eastern
2,000 workers laid off due to 300 baht wage; 4,000 more could be on chopping block
BANGKOK, 14 February 2013 (NNT)-The Ministry of Labor reveals
that nearly 2,000 workers have been laid off so far this year,
thanks to the minimum wage hike, and the future also looks bleak
for another 4,000.
Labor Minister Padermchai Sasomsap said 1,874 workers have been
laid off by 41 companies since January 1st; 500 of whom as a
direct result of the minimum wage rise, according to Department
of Labor Protection and Welfare. Moreover, 24 more companies
with a combined workforce of 3,901 are likely to terminate their
employment in the near future.
Meanwhile, the Social Security Office (SSO) has reported that
52,000 people have registered for unemployment benefit. However,
only 4,000 of the number were laid off, with the majority of
them citing personal reasons for quitting their jobs.
Those whose jobs have been terminated as a result of the new
wage will be qualified for unemployment benefit, but only if
they apply for it through the SSO. They will be paid half of
what they were earning for a period of 6 months, while those who
quit on their own will be paid 30% of their last month's income
for the next 3 months.
PM Yingluck urges trade-related agencies to push for 9% export growth rate
BANGKOK, 15 February 2013 (NNT) – The Prime Minister has urged
all trade-related agencies to help Thailand achieve a healthy
export growth rate in 2013.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong
said on Thursday that the economic Cabinet meeting, chaired by
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, discussed moves to further
promote Thai exports in 2013, especially in the areas of border
Mr. Kittiratt stated that although Thailand has already recorded
trade surpluses with many countries, the PM still urges related
state agencies to continue the improvement of the country’s
import-export procedures in order to boost cross-border trade,
particularly with other ASEAN markets, where growth potential is
For western markets, including Europe and US, where situations
are more stable, Ms. Yingluck asked all responsible units to put
extra efforts into the penetration of all markets as a team.
The Premier suggested the collaboration between such agencies as
the Commerce Ministry, the Agriculture Ministry, the Tourism
Ministry and the private sector as a vehicle to help the country
achieve the target export growth rate of 9%.
PM unveils Southeast Asia’s biggest wind energy farm
NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Feb 13 – Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra
officially launched Thailand’s first wind power project here, acclaimed
as the largest in Southeast Asia, in a move to become regional leader in
The West Huay Bong 2 and 3 wind farms in this northeastern province are
producing wind energy to be supplied to the Electricity Generating
Authority of Thailand (EGAT) and other customers with a production
capacity of 207 megawatts (MW).
Nopporn Suppipat, chief executive officer of Wind Energy Holding Co,
said Tuesday that each wind farm consists of 45 wind turbines, each with
a power production capacity of 2.3 MW or a total production of 103.5 MW
for the entire project which is operated on an investment of Bt13
billion (US$495 million).
West Huay Bong 2 is developed by KR 2 Co and West Huay Bong 3 by First
Koat Wind Co. Both companies are subsidiaries of West Energy Holding Co.
The two projects are located at Dan Khun Thod and Theparak districts in
Both projects have been awarded non-firm power purchase agreements from
EGAT and smaller power producers with a 10-year subsidy of Bt3.50 per
unit added from the Power Department Fund Management, Office of Energy
“We are doing something different for sustainable development,” said Mr
Nopporn. “Wind power is inexhaustible and clean. It lessens our
dependence on diminishing fossil energy and it is in accord with the
government’s target to increase production of alternative energy to
9,201 MW, including 1,200 MW of wind energy, in 2021.”
Wind Energy Holding plans to expand its wind power project to produce
more than 1,000 MW overall. It has signed agreements to sell wind power
from West Huay Bong 2 (90 MW), West Huay Bong 3 (90 MW) and Khao Khor
Wind Farm (60 MW).
The company is scheduled to supply wind power to EGAT next year while
the latter promised to purchase more from the three projects. (MCOT
Thai Islamic Bank asserts financial strength despite soaring NPLs
BANGKOK, Feb 13 – A senior Islamic Bank of Thailand (IBank)
executive has affirmed that the bank’s financial status and
liquidity are strong as ever despite its rocketing
non-performing loans (NPLs) at Bt39 billion, 20 per cent of its
Thanin Angsuwarangsi, IBank manager, said Bt24.3 billion debts
are being negotiated by the bank and debtors while the bank's
liquidity is normal.
IBank is capable of increasing its capital in accord with the
Finance Ministry’s framework and depositors have no cause to
worry, he said.
He said the bank has submitted its plan for a capital increase
and NPL solutions to the Finance Ministry and hoped for the
ministry’s approval soon.
Mr Thanin said before he took the helm at IBank last October,
the bank concentrated on offering loans to major enterprises
instead of lending to Muslim customers.
After a restructuring of IBank’s role, it will emphasise giving
loans to Muslim Thai people and small-time business operators at
a proportion of 50 per cent to Muslim Thais, 25 per cent to
major businesses and 25 per cent to smaller businesses, he said.
Mr Thanin said IBank is currently negotiating with more than 100
major debtors, each indebted at higher than Bt100 million, and
the majority are willing to discuss debt resolution on the NPLs
with the bank.
He believed the problem of Bt39 billion NPLs will be solved in
three years, adding that IBank officers who are found to
unscrupulously offer loans to customers will be legally dealt
Finance Ministry pledges to keep a close eye on foreign fund inflows
BANGKOK, 14 February 2013 (NNT) – The Finance
Ministry has pledged to keep a close eye on the inflows of foreign
funds, for fears of their impact on the already-strong baht.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said that
he is determined to control the inflows of foreign capital into the
country, which have caused the baht to strengthen considerably.
Mr. Kittiratt stated that the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Thailand
(BoT) have both been focused on the implementation of a long-term policy
to prevent the excessive influx of foreign funds, which are interested
in any market with comparatively high interest rate, like Thailand.
In order for the local economy to enjoy sustainable growth, the Finance
Ministry believes the BoT should consider cutting its benchmark interest
rate while noting that such a decision is up to the central bank’s
Monetary Policy Committee to make.
When asked about reports on the suggestion from Moody’s credit ratings
for Thailand to implement more fund flow control measures, Mr. Kittiratt
said that he will not make any comment on the issue, which has been made
public, but affirmed that the Finance Ministry will consider the matter
if the it has been formally advised.
Local SMEs affected by new daily minimum wage to receive more state assistance
BANGKOK, 14 February 2013 (NNT) - The Small and Medium
Enterprises Promotion Committee has agreed to implement special
measures to help SME operators, who have been hit hard by the
recent implementation of the 300-baht daily minimum wage policy.
Industry Minister Prasert Boonchaisuk said that Deputy PM and
Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong has recently called for a
meeting with the Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion
Committee to discuss appropriate measures to help SME
businesses, which are affected by the new daily minimum wage.
Mr. Prasert stated that the meeting agreed to allocate 310
million baht from its 2013 fund as financial assistance for
hardest-hit entrepreneurs and another 200 million baht to be
used as interest subsidy for some 6,300 SME business borrowers.
The daily minimum wage hike, which came into effect across the
country at the beginning of this year, has driven business costs
up considerably, especially in labor-intensive industries. The
policy has also allegedly forced a number of small and medium
enterprises to shut down.
The Industry Minister, however, conceded that the SME fund will
only be of some help for those in need, while affected business
operators are to look for ways to improve themselves in every
possible way to make it through the current circumstances.
Commerce Ministry appreciates France’s support for Thai-EU FTA talks
BANGKOK, 14 February 2013 (NNT) – The Commerce Ministry has
expressed its appreciation for France’s support for the
negotiations of the Thai-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom revealed on Wednesday
that he has recently met with Mrs. Nicole Bricq, France’s
Minister for Foreign Trade, who accompanied the French Prime
Minister and his spouse in an official visit to Thailand.
Mr. Boonsong also had a meeting with 37 leading French business
people, who traveled with the French delegation, during which
both sides agreed Thailand and France have long been trade
allies and should further expand bilateral economic ties.
In addition, the visiting French investors concurred with the
notion that a successful FTA between Thailand and European Union
will benefit both nations greatly, in the areas of trade and
The Commerce Minister added that Mrs. Bricq also showed an
interest in Thailand’s infrastructural development projects,
such as public transport system, satellite, high-speed rail
system and the airport expansion.
He stated that France has expressed its support for further
negotiations on the Thai-EU FTA, which it suggested should
emphasize on balanced trade and investment between both
countries as well as the reduction of trade barriers, including
the non-tariff ones.
Low-cost carriers asked to fly to more destinations in ASEAN
BANGKOK, 13 February 2013 (NNT) - Prime Minister Yingluck
Shinawatra has assigned the Ministry of Transport and the
Airports of Thailand to study the feasibility of increasing
routes operated by low-cost airlines to ASEAN countries.
After her meeting with an executive of Air Asia at Government
House on Wednesday, Ms Yingluck revealed that the discussion
mainly focused on the idea to increase low-cost routes due to
significant growth of air passengers. The PM said the Thai
government wanted to see more routes operated between Thailand,
its neighboring countries and other countries in ASEAN.
The feasibility study on the opening of more routes is under the
responsibility of the Airports of Thailand and the Ministry of
Energy Ministry toughens law on LPG vehicle conversion
BANGKOK, 13 February 2013 (NNT) - The Energy
Ministry is set to toughen the regulation on
Liquefied Petroleum Gas vehicle conversion
following a car explosion last week.
On February 7, an explosion took place at a
garage offering LPG installation in Bangkok’s
Taling Chan district. The blast injured five
people and destroyed four nearby cars.
Energy Minister Pongsak Raktapongpaisal said
that after a meeting with officials from the
Ministries of Transport and Industry, new safety
measures have been outlined in a bid to prevent
a repetition of the incident. The Industry
ministry will speed up a probe into existing
safety requirements for LPG-powered cars while
the Transport Ministry plans to tighten
registration rule for LPG vehicles.
According to the minister, LPG can form
explosive mixtures with air. Once leaked from
its container, the gas may lead to an explosion
upon contacting a source of ignition.
Touching on the issue of LPG smuggling out of
Thailand, Mr Pongsak said police have been
tracking the smuggling routes used by
unscrupulous exporters. Those found guilty of
smuggling are subject to a fine of up to 100,000
baht and a prison sentence of up to 10 years. In
recent years, LPG has consistently been smuggled
from Thailand to neighbouring countries where
prices are higher in significant volume.
52,000 Thai workers lose jobs from minimum wage hike
BANGKOK, Feb 12 – More than 52,000 employees under Thailand's
social security scheme have applied for unemployment benefits
due to losing their jobs in the wake of the country's minimum
wage hike, Labour Minister Phadermchai Sasomsub said.
He said the figure of 52,426 jobless former employees was
compiled from Jan 1 to Feb 4. The daily minimum wage of Bt300
was implemented nationwide Jan 1.
He said the Social Security Fund had paid about Bt1.13 billion
to the unemployed workers.
Among the workers affected, 3,735 were laid off, 10,989
resigned, 484 were not entitled to social security fund
assistance, and 34,408 had yet to be formally notified of their
employment termination by their employers. (MCOT online news)
Finance Ministry nods to SME Bank’s rehabilitation move
BANGKOK, Feb 12 – The Small and Medium Enterprises Bank (SME
Bank) today received a preliminary endorsement for its proposed
rehabilitation plan and vowed to continue its operations despite
the pending threat of an exorbitant amount of non-performing
Pichai Chunhavajira, SME Bank chief executive officer, said the
rehabilitation plan was submitted to Deputy Finance Minister
Thanusak Lek-uthai and representatives of the Fiscal Policy
Office and the State Enterprise Policy Office.
Mr Pichai, who led the SME Bank team in working on the
rehabilitation plan, said the bank also explained on a scheme to
deal with non-performing loans (NPLs), an improvement of the
information technology system to cope with new lending and
organisational restructuring to concentrate more on the bank’s
The deputy finance minister approved the rehabilitation plan and
promised to offer policy support to enable the SME Bank to
continue its business, he said.
The finance and industry ministries will be regularly informed
on progress of the rehabilitation, Mr Pichai said, stressing the
SME Bank’s principle to provide financial assistance to small-
and medium-sized businesses in Thailand.
He said he was assured by the Fiscal Policy Office that the SME
Bank will not be merged with the Government Savings Bank as
widely speculated. (MCOT online news)
Unilever to invest more in Thailand
BANGKOK, 12 February 2013 (NNT) - The multinational consumer
goods giant Unilever is preparing to increase its investment in
Thailand by 2.8 billion baht on confidence that domestic
consumption will continuously expand.
Chairman of Unilever Thailand & Indochina Bauke Rouwers
estimated that the overall Thai economy would continue to be
strong while the 300-baht minimum wage increase would help
stimulate purchasing power. As the consumer goods market in
Thailand was likely to grow, he said Unilever had set plans to
invest more in the country by building a plant to manufacture
home utensils at Lat Krabang Industrial Estate. The new plant is
worth 800 million baht.
In addition, Unilever will also set up a product distribution
center in Chachoengsao province with investment of two billion
baht. The company has set a target to make sales grow more than
last year, which saw revenue of 40 billion baht or a 13%
increase compared to 2011.
Fish stocks significantly rise after Gulf closure during egg-laying season
BANGKOK, 12 February 2013 (NNT) - The Department of Fisheries
has reported an almost 2.5-fold increase in marine life in the
Gulf of Thailand after 3-month off-limits to fishing trawlers
during egg-laying season last year.
Director-General of the Department of Fisheries Wimon
Chanthararothai said from February to May every year some parts
of the sea in Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon and Surat Thani are
banned from fisheries in order to allow marine life to spawn,
especially Pla Tuu or Scomber, which is the most popular genus
of mackerels among Thais.
According to Mr Wimon, a survey on fish stocks in the Gulf of
Thailand after the closing period last year shows that the
prevalence of marine life increased by 2.34 fold compared to the
month before the closure. As for pla tuu catches, the closing of
the sea usually results in over 60,000 tons of catches in a
year. The director-general said if the Scomber was allowed to
grow further, the fish stock would be higher, creating good
income for fishermen and providing sufficient fish for Thais to
eat all year round.
This year the Department of Fisheries will declare the sea off
Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon and Surat Thani off limits to
fishermen from 15 February – 15 May.
SME Bank restructuring strategy wins Finance Ministry’s support
BANGKOK, 12 February 2013 (NNT)-Mr. Pichai Chunhavajira, SME
Bank chief executive officer, said the Ministry of Finance is
satisfied with the Bank's financial restructuring plan to solve
a major NPL problem.
Mr. Pichai said after his meeting with representatives from the
Fiscal Policy Office and the State Enterprise Policy Office that
the meeting discussed the restructuring plan, solutions to NPLs,
an improvement of IT systems and a planned release of new loans.
According to him, the SME Bank’s rehabilitation plan has been
well received and won support from the Minister of Finance. The
IT system as well as organizational structure will undergo
changes in line with the bank’s main responsibilities and in
order to raise public’s confidence.
Mr. Pichai said further that the SME Bank will provide the
Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Industry with a monthly
report on the progress of the rehabilitation strategy. He
asserted that SME Bank executives had given their commitment to
follow the strategy. They believed the bank would be able to
hold its position as a mechanism to assist SME operators
financially. He also denied a rumor that the SME Bank would
merge with the Government Savings Bank.
Tak rose growers eagerly await Valentine’s Day
TAK, Feb 11 – Thailand’s largest rose-growing
district, Pob Phra in this province, 425 km northwest of Bangkok, is
eagerly waiting to cash in on Valentine’s Day when prices of the
blossoms will double or even triple.
Chanyawat Somboonporn, a member of the Pob Phra Rose Growers Group, said
one rose will sell for as much as Bt20 during what some people call
feast of romantic love when young people buy roses to their loved ones.
Pob Phra rose planters normally supply cut flowers to Pak Klong Talad,
the capital’s biggest and oldest wholesale market for fresh agricultural
produce, and Si Mum Muang market in suburban Bangkok at Bt5-8 per piece
and .40 satang each smaller roses with shorter stems.
She said rose growers have never been in the position to set the prices
of their products while investment costs have been escalating.
The producer called on the government to pledge the prices of roses like
other agricultural produce and promote Pob Phra district as a tourism
attraction particularly during the Valentine festival. (MCOT online
Thai medicines penetrate ASEAN market, generating Bt80 mln revenue
BANGKOK, Feb 11 - Thai medicines have made headway into the
ASEAN market, generating around Bt80 million in revenue last
year as pharmaceuticals registered in the ASEAN region.
Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) Director Dr Vithit
Attavechakul said Thailand has advanced in manufacturing
medicines for chronic diseases which are widely exported to
several ASEAN countries, mainly Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, and
Anti-viral drugs for AIDS, anti-diabetic, and anti high-blood
pressure drugs are most popular among all medicines.
Dr Vithit said the popularity gained was because consumers were
confident of the quality of Thai drugs which are standardised
under the GPO and sold both in hospitals and drugstores.
He noted that GPO next week will negotiate with Indonesia's
equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration to register Thai
medicines there. There could also be a joint investment for
medications manufacturing in Indonesia. (MCOT online news)
Farmers protest at GHB for non-performing loan inaction
BANGKOK, Feb 11 – About 3,000 farmers rallied at the Government
Housing Bank (GHB) today, demanding the bank to cut
non-performing loans (NPL) incurred by farmers and transfer them
to the state’s rehabilitation scheme.
Kim-ung Pongnarai, coordinator of the Federation of Farmers
Association Networks of Thailand, said farmers have repeatedly
called on the GHB and several other state-operated banks to
subtract the farmers’ NPLs the way most commercial banks did.
She said the NPLs could be transferred to the Farmers
Rehabilitation and Development Fund (FRDF) to be further managed
under conditions set by the fund and leniency to debtors.
Ms Kim-Ung said commercial banks have shifted their NPLs to the
FRDF at a total value of Bt3 billion, involving 200,000-300,000
farmers. The combined NPLs at commercial banks, incurred by
about 500,000 farmers between 2003 and 2013, are worth Bt60
State-run banks said they are not allowed by law to transfer
their NPLs, Ms Kim-ung said, urging the government to amend the
law to facilitate and equalise the financial leniency.
She said farmers’ debts should be slashed by half to enable them
to repay the other half with the FRDF as practiced by commercial
banks but state-owned banks took the farmers’ assets which were
put as collateral for public auction.
State-run banks should hold their assets for 10 years, instead
of six years, before subjecting them to auction, she said.
Other state-operated banks as mentioned by Ms Kim-ung included
the Small- and Medium-Enterprises Bank, Government Savings Bank,
Islamic Bank of Thailand and the Bank for Agriculture and
Agricultural Cooperatives. (MCOT online news)
Thai manufacturers to bypass red-tape export procedure
BANGKOK, Feb 11 – Thai exporters will join a self-certification
system to deliver their products to Indonesia, Laos and the
Philippines, a move recently approved by parliament to assist
the Thai export sector, according to the Commerce Ministry.
Piramol Charoenpao, director general of the Trade Negotiations
Department, said it would be the second pilot project after the
first pilot programme was successfully launched for Thai exports
to Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei.
Both pilot projects will be implemented in parallel until the
launch of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015 with an objective
to expand the project to all nine ASEAN member countries, she
Exporters must currently apply for the so-called Form D
certification from a state agency, depending upon the export,
which they find inconvenient.
Indonesia, Laos and the Philippines will launch
self-certification systems next month while Thailand will start
the scheme mid-year, she said. (MCOT online news)
Financial institutions impose stricter rule for personal loans
BANGKOK, 11 February 2013 (NNT) – According to a survey by the
Bank of Thailand (BoT), financial institutions are imposing
stricter rules on granting personal loans, after many clients
are found unable to pay their debts.
The BoT conducted a survey on high-level executives from loan
department of 25 commercial banks and financial institutions as
well as from 24 non-bank credit entities in the first quarter
The survey found that most executives believed the loan requests
from large enterprises, SMEs, and households would continue to
increase; while financial institutions would pose stricter rules
on loans allowed for small businesses and households, on the
concerns of their abilities to pay debts.
While some institutions are expected to grant more home loans as
the competition is high; credit cards and personal loans are
anticipated to be more difficult to get.
Govt works with private sector to fight public procurement corruption
BANGKOK, 11 February 2013 (NNT) - The Comptroller General’s
Department, under the Ministry of Finance, has held an
anti-corruption in the public sector meeting with the private
sector. The meeting agreed on the use of an “Integrity Pact” to
obligate project owners who are government units and bidders to
cooperate for transparent and fair procurement.
The meeting, which took place on 8 February 2013, was chaired by
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong
and co-chaired by Secretary-General of the Joint Standing
Committee on Trade, Industries and Banking Pramont Sutheewong,
who is also the chairman of the Anti-Corruption Network. The
meeting focused on promoting cooperation between the government
and the private sector on anti-corruption in public procurement
under the principles of morality and law. The participants also
considered guidelines for the implementation of anti-corruption
The government gave high priority to the problem of corruption
and considered it national agenda. The government encouraged the
private sector and the public to take part in its public
procurement process, Mr Kittiratt said.
The meeting also approved the “Integrity Pact,” a written
agreement to be signed by government units and their bidders.
The pact ensures that public procurement is conducted in a free
and fair manner with third parties observing the procurement
Commerce Min: Goods price control measures to continue all year round
BANGKOK, 11 February 2013 (NNT) - The Commerce
Ministry has revealed this year’s strategic plan, in which a number of
activities under the Blue Flag and Took Jai Shop schemes will be
organized to help lower the cost of living for Thai people.
Permanent Secretary for Commerce Mrs. Watcharee Vimooktayon said the
Commerce Ministry plans to launch its caravan of affordable everyday
items as frequently as 2,000 times throughout this year under the Blue
Flag project, with a target to lower the cost of living for Thais by as
much as 1.5 billion baht in total.
In the meantime, she affirmed that the ministry’s Took Jai Shop project
will continue to offer products that are cheaper than those available in
stores, helping Thai households save another 300-400 million baht a
month on their daily expenses.
Additionally, the Permanent Secretary said her Ministry will also raise
the standards of farm products and the standard of living for farmers,
with the rice pledging scheme to remain in effect. The pledging scheme
for 2012/2013 has so far accepted 9.8 million tons of rice grains while
a total amount of 130 billion baht has been paid to participating rice
Gasohol consumption on the rise
BANGKOK, 11 February 2013 (NNT) – The Department of Energy
Business reported a continued rise in gasohol demand as benzene
91 is expected to become unavailable by the end of March.
Director-General Viraphol Jirapraditakul said that refineries in
Thailand have already halted the production of 91 octane petrol
since Jan 1, 2013, but its sales have been allowed to continue
until March to get rid of its stocks.
Mr Viraphol said orders for E20 petrol have risen from 1.4
million litres to over two million litres per day. He expected
the gasohol consumption to reach 2.5 million by the end of this
year. The domestic consumption of 95 octane petrol, or benzene
95, has also risen from 100,000 litres to one million litres per
The senior official predicted that the sales of 91 octane petrol
should come to a complete halt nationwide in March, with
existing stock at Bangkok stations projected to run out by the
end of February.
Hat Yai lively with foreign tourists during Chinese New Year
SONGKHLA, Feb 10 - The Chinese New Year celebration in Hat Yai business
district in this southern province has been lively, with throngs of
Malaysian and Singaporean tourists shopping in the area, with around
Bt300 million expected to circulate here.
Tourists Business Federation of Songkhla chairman Surapol Kampalanonwat
said many tourists have flocked to Hat Yai during this festival because
they were confident of security measures, and all hotel rooms were fully
The God of Prosperity, or 'Cai Shen,' over 2.30m in height was also
enshrined on Sanehanusorn Rd for people to pay homage to the deity in
the heart of Hat Yai, amid tight security measures. (MCOT online news)
Bt400 million sought to cushion smaller Thai enterprises
BANGKOK, Feb 9 – The Thai Commerce Ministry is proposing to the
cabinet next Tuesday an allocation of Bt400 million from the
Foreign Trade Promotion Fund to help over 1,500 small and
medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) whose businesses have been
severely affected by the sharp appreciation of Thai currency and
the global economic crisis.
Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom said Bt300 million will
be used to support SMEs in their overseas market expansion while
Bt100 million will be set aside as an emergency fund, as
proposed by the Foreign Trade Department.
If earmarked, the fund will assist more than 1,500 SMEs
operators nationwide over a three-year period (2013-2015), he
Spending of the Foreign Trade Promotion Fund must be approved by
the cabinet, as imposed by a decision in 1988.
The latest financial status of the fund is Bt4.2 billion,
including capital and interest. Its annual interest is Bt100
million while the public and private sectors were granted loans
of Bt2 billion each year.
The requested allocation of Bt400 million will be taken from the
capital which will cut into its depleting reserves.
A working committee has been set up to find ways to increase the
size of the fund while a move is being contemplated to seek the
cabinet’s approval of a budget to inject into the fund. (MCOT
PM Yingluck: “Thai economic outlook appears promising”
BANGKOK, 10 February 2013 (NNT) - Prime Minister Yingluck
Shinawatra is positive that the Thai economic outlook will
continue to be promising, due to expanding domestic purchasing
power and stronger foreign investor confidence.
PM Yingluck talked about the country’s economic growth outlook,
during her weekly TV program on Saturday, saying many indicators
have shown that Thai economy will likely continue to grow.
The Prime Minister attributed the country’s bright economic
outlook to strong collaboration among relevant agencies and
units to boost spending and investment while mitigating the
impact of global risks.
Ms. Yingluck stated that the government is determined to push
the local economy to grow in a sustainable manner and in
accordance with its real potential.
Meanwhile, Deputy PM and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong
said that huge foreign investment inflows in stock and bond
markets have led to the baht appreciation.
Mr. Kittiratt said that he has discussed with all related
agencies about the solutions to ease the stronger baht.
He also reiterated that the Bank of Thailand is to make sure
that the value of the Thai currency will be appropriate and
acceptable and the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee
(MPC) will implement suitable interest rate policy to control
the baht direction.
Commerce Ministry to sell pledged rice supply through G2G deals in 2013
BANGKOK, 10 February 2013 (NNT) - The Ministry of Commerce is
set to actively pursue direct rice sales with any government,
which could be in need of more paddies, in its bid to
efficiently manage supplies kept under the pledging scheme.
Permanent Secretary for Commerce Vatchari Vimooktayon said after
a seminar on Thailand’s 2013 rice trade policy and strategy,
held in Nakhon Ratchasima, that, in 2013, the Commerce Ministry
is planning to sell the paddies stored under the state-initiated
pledging scheme through a Government-to-Government deal,
particularly with the countries that have high demand for rice.
Under this approach, Ms. Vatchari is confident that the ministry
will be able to sell more than seven million tons of rice; the
level that is higher than in 2012, through the deals that
involve big volume.
The Permanent Secretary for Commerce also affirmed that both
state and private warehouses, participated in the rice-pledging
scheme, could store up to 30 million tons of rice, which are
sufficient for the execution of the project.
For the 2012/2013 crops, Ms. Vatchari stated that around 9.8
million tons of rice have already been pledged with the
government, which has paid over 132 billion baht to