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1111 hotline launched to receive complaints from foreigners

BANGKOK, 12 March 2015 (NNT) The government has launched a new 24-hour call center to receive complaints from foreigners in Thailand, which can be reached by dialing the 1111 hotline.

The center will be staffed by representatives from all 20 ministries so the complaints can be addressed quickly, said Prime Minister's Office deputy permanent secretary Chamroen Yutithamsakul. The center currently has English, Chinese and Japanese-speaking staff to tend to callers. The Prime Minister's Office is also planning to expand the roster of agencies' representatives to include those from Thai embassies in ASEAN countries.

Mr. Chamroen disclosed that the a preliminary budget has also been allocated for purchasing lunch for individuals who visit the complaints center in person, as well as for subsidizing the expense for the return trip of needy visitors.

Mr. Chamroen said that for emergency matters, foreigners should continue to use the existing 1155 24-hour hotline operated by the Tourist Police.

MPC reduces benchmark rate by 0.25%

BANGKOK, 12 March 2015 (NNT) The Bank of Thailand's (BOT) Monetary Policy Committee has reduced the benchmark interest rate by 0.25% to 1.75% per annum in response to the weaker-than-expected recovery of the Thai economy.

BOT Assistant Governor for Monetary Policy Group Mathee Supapongse said on Wednesday the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted 4 to 3 to cut the policy interest rate by 0.25%, effective immediately. The cut was made in response to lagging consumption, investment and private sector confidence observed in quarter four of 2014 and in January of 2015.

According to Mr. Mathee, the four committee members who voted for the cut wanted to lower the benchmark rate to support the economic recovery and private sector confidence, while the three members who voted against considered the 2% per annum rate relaxed enough to promote economic recovery.

Wednesday's policy rate cut makes Thailand's benchmark rate the lowest in the ASEAN bloc.

NLA: 5-way meeting of reform-related agencies proceeds smoothly

BANGKOK, 12 March 2015 (NNT) Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has not made any special demands of the National Legislative Assembly during the week's meeting of the five main agencies responsible for the reform of the country, said NLA president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai.

Mr. Pornpetch said the 5-way meeting went smoothly and no specific mentions were made by the prime minister regarding the work of the NLA, as General Prayut only asked the agency to continue working hard.

According to the NLA president, the agency will, in accordance with the existing work plan, now switch the focus to working on ancillary laws. Mr. Pornpetch noted, however, that the draft of the new constitution is still not final, and relevant agencies may still request its amendment.

The NLA president also indicated that he has no knowledge of the prime minister having any plans to make appointments or transfers of individuals within the five reform-related agencies.

Thailand and China to sign meeting's outcome on standard gauge railway construction

NONG KHAI, 11 March 2015 (NNT) Transport Minister Prajin Juntong has unveiled the outcome of the third meeting between Thailand and China on the joint development of a 1.435-meter standard-gauge rail network (Nong Khai-Nakhon Ratchasima- Kaeng Khoi-Map Ta Phut) held in Nong Khai, Thailand.

He said he led the Chinese working group to Nong Khai during March 10-11 to observe the locations for the railway construction in order to show them the high potential of the province to be an interchange for passengers to connect with trains to Kunming of China and Vientiane of Laos. On March 15, he said Thailand will hold talks with Laos on a proposal to develop rail routes linking Bangkok, Vientiane and Kunming. The connection is expected to benefit greatly tourism and investment.

According to the Transport Minister, China and Thailand also reached an agreement on the distribution of the work involved, which will be a clear guide for each country to fulfill its obligations. Details of the work distribution will be discussed again at the fourth meeting of the jont working group to be held in Kunming, China during May 6-8, during which the format of loans is expected to be reached.

On March 27, the Transport Minister will report the outcome of all meetings and the progress of the project from January and March to the cabinet. In addition, it will make a budget proposal for employing consultancy companies to oversee EIA survey, project management and project assessment.

Border districts of Tak have high potential, says PRD Dept Director-General

TAK, 11 March 2015 (NNT) The Deputy Director-General of the Public Relations Department (PRD) has made his remark on the five border districts of Tak during his field observation, saying the area has great potential but will need continuous support.

The PRD Deputy Director-General Prawin Pattanapong conducted a field observation of the border districts of Tak province, as well as Thai-Myanmar cultural attractions in the area on the subjects of trade, investment, and tourism.

He has said that the objectives of this field observation is to gather information for consideration of the Thai-Myanmar Special Economic Zone’s public relations planning campaign.

From the observation, the PRD Deputy Director-General has said that the tourism attractions in the five west-border districts of Tak, as well as the Myawaddy province of Myanmar will require support and renovation in aspects of site restoration and conservation with respect to the local traditions.

He has also said that Thai youth should increase their knowledge in foreign languages, such as English and Burmese to be able to use the languages to communicate in the area.

He concluded that the improvement in all aspects will sustainably improve the people's quality of life in the special economic zone.

CDC to present NLA with 26 draft bills required by the new constitution.

BANGKOK, 11 March 2015 (NNT) The Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) will present the drafts of 26 bills to the National Legislative Assembly as required by the new charter.

General Lertrat Ratanavanich, spokesperson for the CDC, said after Tuesday's meeting of the CDC that the revised draft of the new permanent constitution is expected to be completed by the end of this month. The draft will then be forwarded to the National Reform Council for the latter to offer its reflection. The Election Commission, the Office of the Ombudsman and the National Human Rights Council will be invited to make their observations on the charter draft as well.

Meanwhile, the CDC will be presenting at least 26 draft bills to the National Legislative Assembly, 12 of which will be organic laws and 14 of which will be drafts of other acts. Among the draft bills are the draft of the National Virtue Assembly Act and the draft of the act on members of parliament election and Senate recruitment.

EGA to create central archive for state agencies' apps.

BANGKOK, 11 March 2015 (NNT) Government agencies that have created apps for mobile device users have been told to utilize the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology as the public's access point for apps by state agencies.

Capt. Yongyuth Mayalarp, the government spokesperson, revealed after Tuesday's Cabinet meeting that the Electronic Government Agency (EGA) had informed the Cabinet of the option to provide the public with access to state services through a central archive of mobile device applications by various state agencies. In response, the Cabinet had tasked state agencies that have their own mobile device apps to report to the ICT Ministry in order for the EGA to make its central collection of apps. The spokesman said this would allow the public to easily access the services provided by the apps.

Also on Tuesday, the Cabinet endorsed, in principle, the draft of the bill on international cooperation in criminal affairs. Capt. Yongyuth said the draft had undergone amendment aimed at ensuring compliance with the United Nations Convention against Corruption 2003 as well as ASEAN's treaty on mutual assistance in criminal matters.

Gen. Prayut to attend World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan

BANGKOK, 11 March 2015 (NNT) Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will be in Japan on Friday and Saturday to attend the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction.

General Prayut indicated on Tuesday that he would attend the event to relay Thailand's experiences in dealing with the 2004 tsunami and flood disasters, in addition to re-asserting Thailand's commitment to supporting disaster risk reduction. Emphasis will be made on preemptive collaboration between the state and civic sectors on disaster prevention.

The World Conference in Sendai, Japan is expected to be attended by around 8,000 participants, with thousands more participating in events linked to the conference.

2015 annual export growth set at 4% due to global economy

BANGKOK, 10 March 2015 (NNT) The cabinet has confirmed that the decelerated export rate in January was due to the global economic slowdown, while setting the 2015 annual export expansion target to 4 percent, says the government spokesperson.

The Spokesperson of the Prime Minister's Office Captain Yongyut Maiyalap has revealed the outcome of the cabinet’s meeting, saying that the Ministry of Commerce has set the 2015 export growth target at 4 percent with the export ratio to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam (CLMV countries) at 10.7 percent, 3.3 percent to the ASEAN market, and 10.3 percent to the Indian market.

He said that the overall export in January experienced deceleration due to the low prices for agricultural products in the global market. He also said that the Ministry of Commerce is now planning a new stimulus package that will penetrate new markets, as well as focusing on the elderly market and hotel industry consumers.

The spokesperson said that the Thai exporting sector has experienced global market players, such as the CP All group and the Sahapat group. These players will provide the initial penetration to the global market, which the Thai exporters will rely on.

The Ministry of Commerce will be negotiating on the Free Trade Area (FTA) agreement with India, Pakistan, and Turkey to find new export channels for the country, according to the government’s spokesperson.

King visits royal projects at Chitralada Farm

BANGKOK, 10 March 2015 (NNT) His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej on late Monday afternoon (March 9) proceeded from Siriraj Hospital to observe royal projects at Chitralad Farm in the compound of Chitralada Villa. At the Farm, His Majesty stopped at the Demonstration Rice Mill and toured around an exhibition on the use of solar energy in rice milling, put up inside the mill.

The Demonstration Rice Mill mill was established in 1971 following the royal initiative to encourage farmers to group themselves into cooperatives so that they would be strong enough to set up and run their own rice mill, instead of selling their paddy at low price to private millers. His Majesty at that time donated his own fund for the establishment of a demonstration rice mill to provide knowledge to farmers on milling techniques and appropriate ways to store various types of paddy.

His Majesty later proceeded past the Suan Dusit powder milk factory and a UHT milk production center before taking a rest at the solar-powered house built by the Defense Energy Department in honor of His Majesty the King on the Golden Jubilee of His Majesty’s Accession to the Throne in 1996.

His Majesty spent about an hour at the Chitralada Farm before returning to Siriraj Hospital at 4.43 p.m.

NRC’s environment committee pushing for prevention of problems from all mega-projects

BANGKOK, 10 March 2015 (NNT) The National Reform Council’s committee on environment is pushing for more preventive measures against the impact of any problems caused by the implementation of mega-projects.

Spokesman of the NRC’s committee on natural resources and environment Thon Thamrongnawasawat said that the committee is planning to make it compulsory for all large-sized projects to prepare an environmental assessment report in order to promote transparency and the speed of the project execution.

Mr. Thon said that the push will involve the strategic environmental assessment or SEA, which will be conducted in advance for any project that covers a large area.

He added that the SEA will enable the public to be informed of and to take part in the project that will have an impact on their life since the beginning.

According to Mr. Thon, all steps suggested by the committee will be completed and conducted both before and after any project is executed as it is believed that such an approach will help Thailand achieve sustainable development and genuine public participation.

CDC’s Thawinwadee: 58.9% of Thais support election of prime minister

BANGKOK, 10 March 2015 (NNT) The Constitution Drafting Committee has found that more than half of Thai people prefer to see the new prime minister who is elected by voters in a general election.

Chairwoman of the CDC’s sub-committee on the promotion of public participation Thawinwadee Bureekul said that the sub-committee joined the National Statistical Office to conduct a survey on 5,800 samples during March 5 an 11.

Ms. Thawinwaddee said that the survey found many developments have been approved of by more than 90% of the respondents.

Those issues are such as the rights of the people to vote in a public referendum when it comes to the matter of national interest and the compulsory assets disclosure by members of all independent organizations.

She added that 67.6% of the surveyed people believe women should represent at least 30% of political office holders while 58.9% wanted the next prime minister to be a member of parliament.

CDC startes review of all 315 articles of draft charter before submission to NRC

BANGKOK, 10 March 2015 (NNT) The Constitution Drafting Committee has started reviewing all articles of the draft charter before submitting the entire draft to the National Reform Council in mid-April.

The CDC meeting on Monday looked at the entire draft charter — the process that will take weeks to complete.

The review of the draft charter involves the deliberation of each of the 315 articles, with a focus on the wording and not the principle behind them given that it has been reviewed once already.

However, the CDC will also look at all pending details of any article, such as the proposal to set a minimum of one female political office holders for every two male colleagues, and make a final resolution for each issue before the final draft is submitted to the President of the NRC by April 17.

Apart from the review of the draft charter, the CDC has prepared a table of summary of the intent for additional law amendments to confirm that the charter drafters have carried out their duties as called for by the interim Constitution.

NRC acknowledged report on educational reform committee

BANGKOK, 10 March 2015 (NNT) The National Reform Council has acknowledged the report from the committee on educational reform which focuses on the development of Thailand’s education and human resources.

The NRC sitting on Monday reviewed a report from one of its committee which is about the strategies for educational reform and people’s development.

Deputy chairman of the committee in charge of the study Narong Budhhicheewin informed the NRC sitting about the principles and the reasons behind the report which he said has compiled researches, documents and opinions from all parties involved.

Mr. Narong added that, while Thailand is entering the era of ageing society, the quality of education in the country remains mediocre while the conditions of human resources are somewhat worrying in many ways. Therefore, he said that the development of Thailand’s educational system and people must be launched to strengthen the citizens and the society.

The committee has hoped to push the suggestions in the report to be included in the national agenda while the NRC members have expressed their support for the setting up of free scholarship for poor children.

NRC’s committee on economic reform urged Finance Ministry to review personal tax restructuring

BANGKOK, 10 March 2015 (NNT) The National Reform Council’s committee on economic and financial reform has urged the Finance Ministry to review the restructuring of the country’s personal tax collection.

Chairman of the NRC’s economic and financial reform committee Somchai Richupan said that the committee has suggested the Finance Ministry to adjust the tax rate brackets under the personal tax collection system to be more aligned with current value of the baht and the country’s economic development pace.

According to Mr. Somchai, the committee has viewed the current personal tax brackets that have been put to use for more than 20 years as outdated and a restructuring will bring more people under the system while current tax payers will be paying at least a little less – a scenario that will not affect the country’s revenue.

He added that the committee’s latest meeting with the Finance Ministry also discussed the planned implementation of the property tax policy, which the committee believes should be timely implemented in order to achieve the results of Thailand’s reform.

Pump prices down for all fuels but E85

BANGKOK, 10 March 2015 (NNT) Pump prices have gone down for all fuel products except for E85, after the Committee on Energy Policy Administration (CEPA) resolved on Monday to reduce the rates of contribution toward the Oil Fund.

The pump prices of all kinds of fuel except E 95 have been lowered effective this morning, according to oil retailers. The prices of diesel has been cut by 50 satang a liter, octane 95 benzene by 2 baht per liter, and all types of gasohol bar E85, which remains unchanged, by 1 baht per liter.

The CEPA has slashed the Oil Fund contribution rate for benzene by 2 baht per liter, gasohol by 1 baht per liter and diesel by 20 satang per liter. It also resolved to cut E85 subsidy by 1 baht per liter.

In Bangkok, gasohol 91 now sells for 27.98 baht a liter, gasohol 95 by 29.30 baht a liter, benzene 95 by 34.96 baht a liter and diesel by 26.89 baht per liter.

Tunnel boring machine for Blue Line extension gets to work

BANGKOK, 10 March 2015 (NNT) Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha affirmed on Monday that the target date for bringing the entire electric train network for Greater Bangkok into service is currently being set for late 2018 or in 2019.

On Monday, General Prayut presided over the launching ceremony for the tunnel boring machine that will bore under the Chao Phraya River to allow the Sanam Chai-Tha Phra segment of the Blue Line extension to be completed. According to Gen. Prayut, the entire electric train system for Greater Bangkok is expected to come into service by late 2018 or in 2019. The government has been addressing hurdles in terms of contracts in the hope of moving the service date forth. There are currently three electric train routes that remain to be approved by the Cabinet, said Gen. Prayut.

Monday's ceremony was also attended by Transport Minister Prajin Juntong, who reaffirmed to reporters that the Purple Line electric train would be coming into service by January next year.

The Blue Line extensions from Hua Lamphong to Bang Khae and from Bang Sue to Tha Phra stretch 27 kilometers and encompass 22 stations. Unlike the main segment of the Blue Line currently in service, most of the extensions' railways will be located above ground.

Gen. Prayut: land and building tax collection not anytime soon

BANGKOK, 10 March 2015 (NNT) The land and building tax will not be collected anytime soon, because three more hearings on the law's draft by the National Legislative Assembly are required. There will also be a long time lag before the taxation takes effect, said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

According to General Prayut, it may be one or two years before the new taxes are collected. He explained that the significant time requirement is due to deliberation into details of prices, urban planning, and other relevant matters. Gen. Prayut added that he and state officials would be among those who will be taxed under the new law.

The prime minister added that the collection of land and building tax is required in order for the state to gain additional income to offset shortfalls in revenue collection from other sources, which were attributable to tax avoidance. He noted that the avoided taxes will also be recouped at a later time.

Gen. Prayut elaborated that the government had to set an unbalanced budget with a deficit of around 200 billion baht in order for the sub-district administrative organizations to pay for their loans, the warehouse bills for mortgaged rice, the expenses incurred from free train and bus services to keep them running and regular expenses of the state.

PRD deputy chief visits Mae Sot to observe the country’s first SEZ

TAK, 9 Mar 2015 (NNT) Deputy Director-General of the Government Public Relations Department Prawin Pattanapong and his entourage on Monday visited Mae Sot border district in Tak Province, to study the progress of the country’s first Special Economic Zone which has been established to catch up with business opportunities offered by the approaching ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

Mr. Prawin met with the provincial committee responsible for the economic zone establishment, led by Tak Governor Hataya Tanti as well as Public Relations officers from the 17 northern provinces and Radio Thailand officials in Tak. The study visit was aimed at equipping the PRD officials with knowledge about the special border economic zone which will play an important role in trade and investment promotion during the AEC, due at the end of this year.

Mr. Prawin will also observe the development and management strategies in the province during his 3-day visit. He will discuss possible methods to improve the quality of life of the locals and gather as much information as possible for use in publicizing the special border economic zone before and during the AEC.

The PRD Deputy Director-General added that his agency would step up its operations to promote understanding between the government and Thai people, underline the unity, and instill love for the nation, religion, and the monarchy.

Police steps up security measures after grenade attack at Criminal Court in Bangkok

BANGKOK, 8 March 2015 (NNT) National police chief Somyot Pumpanmuang has ordered police to step up security measures and share necessary information with soldiers assigned for a peace-keeping mission in Bangkok following an explosion at the Criminal Court on Ratchadapisek Road on Saturday night.

Uniform and plainclothes police officers have been deployed around various important places in Bangkok to ensure security for Thais and foreigners.

The explosion involved an RGD5 grenade that was thrown into the court's parking lot, followed by a gunfire which wounded a man. RGD5 had been used in numerous attacks by protesters during last year's political rallies. Thus the police chief believed the explosion was intended to create unrest and violence.

Motivation of the grenade attack is still under a joint investigation by police and military units

Consumable items get cheaper after Chinese New Year

BANGKOK, 8 March 2015 (NNT) Many consumer products in markets are now on sale at cheaper prices after the Chinese New Year festival, as observed by the Commerce Minister.

The Minister of Commerce, Gen Chatchai Sarikulya, today conducted a field observation for retails in the Wattananun Market in Don Mueang District, Bangkok along with officials from the Department of Internal Trade (DIT).

He said that the prices of most items have been reduced, while some items remain at the same price from the Chinese New Year festival, including pork, chicken, vegetables, fruits, and eggs, except for beef that has a higher price compared to other items due to lower levels of consumption.

In the observation today, most merchants have displayed prices for each item clearly, while some vendors used inaccurate weight scales and have been notified. Accurate weight scales are also available in the market for consumers to re-check their purchased items.

The Minister of Commerce also mentioned that the prices for cooked foods in Don Mueang District are still within the controlled standard of the Ministry, and the public can report overpriced foods or products to the Ministry for further inspection.

Meanwhile, the DIT will continue conducting observations to check the sales of fruit and vegetables as the country has entered the drought season, causing some strain on the amount of produce for some fruits and vegetables. In this observation however, seasonal fruits and vegetables are still available at normal prices.

Water and fire trucks sent out around Lampang to reduce haze

LAMPANG, 8 March 2015 (NNT) The Third Army Area has sent out water and fire trucks around Lampang Province to spray water to reduce haze and air pollution which has covered the province since Jan 2015.

The trucks move past living quarters in Muang District while spraying water into the air to increase moisture and simultaneously decrease the fine particle load in the atmosphere which is still higher than the safe level.

The officials on all trucks also encouraged local residents to spray water in their house gardens and the front lawns, as well as avoid any fire until the air quality becomes normal.

Measurement of air quality in Lampang in the morning of March 8th indicates that haze remains heavy in the area with the Particle Matter (PM10) level over standard. In Muang District the PM10 level is at 105 micrograms per cubic meter whereas in the sub-districts of Ban Dong, Sop Pat and Mae Mo, the particle loads are at 108, 100 and 96 micrograms per cubic meter respectively. Overall, air quality ranges from medium level down to the level which causes health problems.

The Third Army Area sent its 2nd Corps Commander to inspect the progress of haze and fire control measures in Lampang during the weekend and found the situation was satisfactory. However, the officer urged provincial authorities to standby for emergency until the air quality is back to normal situation.

NRC expected to consider reports on education reform and human resource strategy

BANGKOK, 9 March 2015 (NNT) The National Reform Council (NRC) is expected to consider an educational and human resource development strategy drafted by the educational reform committee in its meeting today.

Apart from the issue, the NRC will hear a report of progress presented by the Constitution Drafting Committee.

The meeting will continue tomorrow to endorse the progress report on the draft constitution to be presented by the chairman of the drafting committee Bovornsak Uwanno. This will be followed by a consideration into a report by the national resource and environment committee on the organizational reform related to city planning and land usage system.

Chiang Mai holds MOL meets public employment fair

CHIANG MAI, 8 March 2015 (NNT) The Ministry of Labour has joined hands with Chiang Mai province and related agencies to hold a job fair today with aims to reduce unemployment, improve workforce skills, and stimulate the economy.

The Minister of Labour, Gen Surasak Karnjanarat, today presided over the opening ceremony of the MOL meets the public job fair 2015, which is themed ‘Joyful Northern People thanks to Employment’ on 8-9 March 2015 at the Chiangmai International Convention Center.

In this occasion, the Permanent Secretary of Labour Ministry, Nakorn Silpa-archa, said that the MOL meets the public project has been held in Khon Kaen, Chonburi, Songkhla, and Chiang Mai to deliver the services of the MOL and its related agencies to the public along with the Governor meets the people project.

The activities are designed to address the economic development trends, encourage employment, reduce labour shortage issues, as well as improve the skills and capabilities of the public workforce in preparation for the challenges and the competitions in the ASEAN region and the international level, said the Permanent Secretary of Labour.

The job fair features 10,000 vacancies from 200 companies, an online well wishes signing booth for Their Majesties the King and Queen, employment consultancies, employment preparedness tests, and exhibitions on the achievements of about 100 government and private agencies.

For the governor meets the people event held in parallel with the job fair, the event includes health checkup services, issuing of identification cards, renew driver’s licenses, Red Cross Charter services, the sale of OTOP merchandise, the Blue Flag cheap product fair, as well as entertainment activities.

NACC to hold "Corruption-Free Local Administrative Organization" workshop during Mar 9-12

BANGKOK, 8 March 2015 (NNT) The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) is to hold an annual workshop aimed at promoting a corruption-free local administrative organization (LAO) at Richmond Hotel in Nonthaburi from March 9-12.

The workshop will raise the understanding of LAO staff about the threat of corruption to national prosperity. Participants in the workshop will be embedded with the value of honesty, morality and good governance so that they can be models for LAO officials nationwide.

Since 2009, a number of LAO have been presented with “Good Governance Award” for their efforts to keep the administration out of corruption and promote public participation in anti-corruption process. These organisations are ready to transfer their experience to other LAOs in Thailand, revealed an NACC spokesman.

Govt.: Land and house tax collection necessary

BANGKOK, 9 Mar 2015, (NNT) The new land and house tax collection scheme will not affect the majority of the people, Deputy Government Spokesperson Maj Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd has said, adding that the country needs income for development.

as According to Maj Gen Sansern, the old bill is obsolete and needs to be updated to better reflect the current situation. He asked all to understand that tax collection is necessary for the development of the nation, underlining the fact that it is everyone’s duty to pay tax.

He said Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha has already drawn up guidelines for the Ministry of Finance to follow; for example, the bill must not affect low-income earners, but those who earn more will have to contribute more.

The Deputy Government Spokesperson, however, said the issue remained an idea at the moment, and more studies would be conducted to ensure that the bill would be fair to all sides. The Cabinet and the National Legislative Assembly must also approve of the bill in order for it to take effect.

He asked the residents not to be overly concerned and urged all to refrain from lambasting the bill.

NBTC to discuss CAT’s internal restructuring in mid-March

BANGKOK, 9 Mar 2015, (NNT) The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission will convene a meeting in the middle of this month to discuss the internal restructuring of CAT Telecom Public Company.

According to Commissioner Supinya Klangnarong, her agency has initially planned to scale down the number of its sub-committees and combine some of its offices with the NBTC.

She also disclosed that the Commission had received an open letter from Amarin Televisions Company, asking it to address several issues regarding the management of the digital TV.

The company asked the NBTC to look into the fairness in assigning the channel numbers in digital TV, the airing of standard definition contents in high definition channels, the clarification of regulations regarding ads in the digital TV, and the technical hiccups that prevent the airing of high definition content from the DVB-S2 digital satellite transmission system.

NRC President assures only charter without flaw will be put to use

BANGKOK, 6 March 2015 (NNT) The President of the National Reform Council has assured that he will not allow the new Constitution to be put to use if it has any flaw.

NRC President Tienchay Kiranant said that the Constitution Drafting Committee, on April 17, is scheduled to present their first draft of the new charter to the reform council who will spend the following 10 days deliberating the draft.

Therefore, the NRC is set to carefully review the new Constitution during April 20 and 26, except April 23 when the National Legislative Assembly has scheduled a meeting, he said.

Mr. Tienchay added that all NRC members will be allowed to freely share their opinions about the draft charter while any questions from them and the NLA , the Cabinet as well as the National Council for Peace and Order can later be directed to the charter drafters for clarification.

The NRC President believes that the final version of the new Constitution will be exactly how it has been expected — a suitable and fair charter that can solve the problems of social, economic and political inequality.

He asserted that the NRC will not allow a charter which is not of any value or meaningfulness to be put to use as it will only cause more problems to Thailand later.

NLA approves draft law on infectious animal diseases.

The legislature also agreed to appoint a 19-member special committee to work on the draft law, and scheduled the deliberation within seven days. The entire process is set to be completed within 60 days.

The latest draft law that received an endorsement of the NLA was first passed in 1982 and the amendment was initiated to update it to suit the current global conditions.

Under the amended law, the Public Health Minister who will receive advice from a committee on animal germs and toxin, which is yet to be set up, is authorized to make all announcements about the details, the methodology, the list of germs or toxins, and all related information to protect the public.

In addition, more efficient control measures and clauses related to legal punishment have also been added to the old law. (NNT)

CDC: Election to take place with 180 days after new charter is in effect

BANGKOK, 6 March 2015 (NNT) The next general election will have to take place within less than six months after the new charter is put into effect, according to the Constitution Drafting Committee.

CDC spokesman Kamnoon Sidhisamarn said on Thursday that the new Constitution is expected to include 315 articles.

He added that, under the suspending clause of article 308, the general election of members of parliament must take place within 90 days while all senators must be ready to work within 150 days after the related organic law of the new Constitution is in effect.

Once the new charter is officially in use, the CDC will have to submit to the legislature within 60 days the organic law related to the elections of MPs and senators before sending it to the Constitutional Court within 30 days to rule whether it is in contradiction with the charter .Mr. Kamnoon said that.

Based on these conditions, it is clear that the general elections of MPs and senators will have to be organized within 180 days and 240 days, respectively, after the new Constitution is active.

Nan Province to hold Thai Heritage Conservation Day activity during 2-6 Apr

NAN, 6 March 2015 (NNT) Nan Province is to hold an event to mark the Thai Heritage Conservation Day under the concept “Bringing Ethnics Together for ASEAN Prosperity”. It is also held in honor of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on the occasion of her 5th Cycle Birthday Anniversary.

The Governor of Nan said that the event is aimed at promoting public unity amidst ethnic diversities for better mutual understanding and integrity. It is also an opportunity for people of all ages to participate in religious and cultural activities which can help stimulate the local economy of Nan through cultural tourism and trading of OTOP products.

There will be a wide range of activities in the event, for example, food offering to Buddhist monks, Summer Monk and Novice Ordination, trading of native products made by ethnic groups, cooking demonstration on native cuisine and performances as well as a light and sound show entitled “Bringing Nan Heritage to ASEAN”.

People are invited to attend the event during 2-6 April 2015 at Kuang Mueng Nan and the provincial museum.

PM vows to promote women's rights on International Women's Day

BANGKOK, 6 March 2015 (NNT) Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha vowed to promote gender equality in Thailand so that women can have a better quality of life.

His commitment was contained in his speech on "Two Decades of Beijing Declaration: The Power of Women, The Power of Society" delivered at the opening ceremony of the International Women’s Day celebration held at IMPACT today.

The PM said that nowadays Thai women have taken a greater role in society including political, police and military circles. Most of them work in office jobs dealing with documentation and administrative system which require high patience, accuracy and minuteness. In his opinion, women should be given an equal opportunity to access political sphere. However, he admitted that some careers, such as army chief, do not suit women.

As head of the government, he gave moral support to Thai women to help develop the country and insisted that the government has put efforts to expedite the enactment of gender equality laws as gifts for Thai women. The draft law is under the deliberation of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA).

The PM also assigned the police to stop a planned rally by monks on 12 Mar aimed to terminate the National Reform Council (NRC) committee on the Protection of Buddhism, saying the move was inappropriate for monks.

Chaiyaphum holds national reform opinion forum

CHAIYAPHUM, 6 March 2015 (NNT) The public opinion forum on the national reform has been held in Chaiyaphum province to encourage the public to participate on the reformation agenda.

The Governor of Chaiyaphum Wichian Chanthanothai has presided over the public opinion forum at the Chaiyaphum Rajabhat University auditorium. The forum was held to gather opinions from the general public on the topic of national reform.

The public opinion forums have been held in accordance to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)’s roadmap in its second phase, which consists of the gathering of opinions and suggestions from the general public aged over 18 years in the subdistrict level. The public feedback coverage also includes opinions from education institutes and professional associations.

About 200 students participated in this forum held at Chaiyaphum Rajabhat University.

The reconciliation proceedings aim to create unity at the village, district, provincial, and eventually on a national level.

Security & transport authorities discuss accident prevention plans for Songkran

BANGKOK, 6 March 2015 (NNT) High-ranking officials from the Royal Thai Police and the Department of Highways have convened a joint meeting to discuss plans to prevent and minimize accidents in preparation for the upcoming Songkran Festival.

According to Royal Thai Police Spokesperson Pol. Lt. Gen. Prawut Thawornsiri, the Department of Highways will expedite the repair and maintenance of all damaged roads and will also enlarge road shoulders in rest areas and souvenir zones in order to lower accidents.

The Department of Highways expects to complete the repair and maintenance of main roads within one month. A recent survey has found that there are more than 700 roads across the country where maintenance works are needed. The Royal Thai Police has also requested the Department of Highways to give a notice before carrying out the revamp so that police will be sent out to facilitate the task.

Traffic accidents during the seven-day Songkran Festival last year reportedly claimed 322 lives and injured 3,225. Driving under the influence was the main cause of casualties.

TCELS receives positive feedback from BioAsia event

HYDERABAD, 6 March 2015 (NNT) Thailand’s BioAsia 2015 event has received much attention from participating entrepreneurs and media, with highlight on cosmetics made from natural rubber, says the CEO of Thailand Center of Excellence for Life Sciences.

The Chief Executive Officer of Thailand Center of Excellence for Life Sciences (TCELS), Nares Damrongchai, has said that the TCELS and its network agencies have joined the BioAsia 2015 event in Thailand Pavilion exhibition.

The Thailand Pavilion exhibition features products and services in life sciences such as cosmetics made from natural rubber and the medical gnome center. The exhibition also invited agencies and entrepreneurs from India to attend the Thailand LAB 2015 technology exhibition, set to commence in Bangkok during 9-11 September 2015.

The TCELS CEO has said that the centre’s participation this year in BioAsia, has given TCELS insights on medicine manufacturing and new medicines, biological products, medical services, and in-dept clinical researches.

He said that Thailand’s exhibition received the most attention from visitors with entrepreneurs, investors, and the media. Much of the attention was concentrated on cosmetics that were made from natural rubber. Research cooperation in medicine and tests in human, the medical gnome project, and medicine registration in Thailand also drew attention from the attendees and the media.

This event saw about 20 business negotiations and cooperation prospects. Another fruitful cooperation was between the TCELS and the Federation of Asian Biotechnology Association (FABA), an agency of the Telangana State in India. Both parties will led the Indian agencies' attendance to the Thailand LAB 2015 exhibition, according to the TCELS CEO.

The TCELS CEO has then said that the presentation of the achievement on life sciences by TCELS and its partners has been the main role of the center, that has led to cooperation on the international level, which complies to the center’s main role as an agency for life sciences cooperation that aims to collaborate with other agencies domestically and internationally.

S. Korea, UAE to jointly penetrate new renewable energy markets

SEJONG, March 6 MCOT South Korea and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will join forces to make inroads into promising renewable energy markets, the government said Friday.

The deal came as South Korean President Park Geun-hye arrived in the UAE the same day as part of her nine-day, four-nation trip to the Middle East to strengthen ties with the region.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was inked in Abu Dhabi on Thursday that can harness South Korea's technical know-how in the energy and industrial sectors with the UAE's financial clout and understanding of regional markets.

The MOU is expected to further accelerate bilateral cooperation in markets that have good growth potential, such as Egypt.

South Korea and the UAE have been working together to enter the North African country's solar energy sector, as well as port development and ship repair works. Other African countries can also become future markets for joint projects.

Under the latest agreement, the two sides will set up a standing consultative group chaired by ministerial-level officials that will oversee feasibility studies and carry out research.

"The latest MOU lays the foundation for the two sides to penetrate new growth markets that can benefit all sides," the ministry said.

It pointed out that joint cooperation can allow South Korean businesses to capture emerging markets ahead of the competition and allow South Korean workers to find jobs in these countries and with businesses that support such operations. (Yonhap)

China to reduce coal consumption for better air

BEIJING, March 6 - China will slash coal consumption by 160 million tonnes in the next five years to reduce air pollution, according to an action plan released on Friday.

Jointly released by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and the Finance Ministry, the 2015-2020 action plan on the efficient use of coal underlines the country's efforts and target for greener energy use.

Reducing coal consumption will involve eliminating outdated production capacity and using cleaner energy such as hydropower, nuclear, wind and solar, said the action plan.

The highlight of the action plan is using fiscal and financial policies to support coal consumption cuts by pumping more funds and financing to battle pollution, said Gao Yunhu, a senior official of MIIT.

Currently, China's coal consumption accounts for about 66 percent of primary energy use, 35 percentage points higher than the world average.

China aims to bring its share of non-fossil energy to 15 percent by 2020 and 20 percent by 2030.

According to the annual government work report delivered by Premier Li Keqiang Thursday, the Chinese government plans to reduce energy intensity, or units of energy per unit of GDP, by 3.1 percent in 2015. (MCOT Xinhua)

NRC: religious reform is only an idea

BANGKOK, 6 March 2015 (NNT) The Defense Minister downplayed a controversial proposal for religious reform, following strong opposition from Dhammakaya followers.

Defense Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan assured the public that the National Reform Council (NRC) is well aware of the strong opposition to reforms that are related to religious affairs.

NRC President Thienchai Kiranan said the NRC is only discussing religious reforms, an idea which currently exists in its infancy.

Followers of Wat Phra Dhammakaya have vowed to take to the streets if the proposal was not withdrawn in seven days. Despite the threat, General Prawit claimed he is not worried about potential unrest.

Meanwhile, Army Chief General Udomdej Sitabutr said he personally believes that further deliberation is needed to decide whether the religious reform should be implemented. He said that no conflict should arise from the debate and called for careful consideration of the issue, given its sensitive nature.

Ratchaburi to hold public hearings on national reform

RATCHABURI, 6 March 2015 (NNT) The National Reform Council (NRC) has launched another round of public hearings on national reform in Ratchaburi province, where a total of 11 meetings are scheduled by the end of March.

The sessions consist of more than 70 politically-active people, who were asked to share their vision of Thailand 20 years from now and suggest ways to solve deep-rooted issues. These problems include corruption, vote buying, lagging education, nepotism, and social and economic gaps.

Among the proposed solutions were harsher punishments, especially in the form of lifelong impeachments for rogue politicians, as well as the acceleration of legal procedures and proceedings.

Other suggestions included the establishment of a school of ethics for prospective civil servants, and a civil organization tasked with scrutinizing civil servants and politicians.

The NRC is expected to finish the 11 hearings by the end of this month. The final session is scheduled for March 26th.

Rescue units on standby as thunderstorms about to affect 40 provinces.

BANGKOK, 6 March 2015 (NNT) The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) has coordinated rescue efforts in preparation for thunderstorm forecast across the country until next Monday.

According to DDPM Deputy Director-General Anusorn Kaewkangwan, the high pressure system from China could bring thunder and hail storms to some areas in the Northeast, lower Central region and the East of the country.

The DDPM is expected to respond to any emergency situations at any time, even though no severe weather conditions have been reported yet. People in 40 provinces have been told to brace for gusty winds and heavy rains.

They are also urged to remove any signs and placards which are vulnerable to wind damage. The 18 DDPM provincial offices will be on standby to dispatch a rescue team to help those in need or call a 24 hour-hotline at 1784.

However, the storms could raise national water storage levels and put out forest fire on top of everything else. Residents affected by the water shortage are advised to take this opportunity to store water.

Udon Thani holds an OTOP fair, highlighting traders' readiness to enter the AEC

UDON THANI, 6 Mar 2015 (NNT) The Upper Northern Region Provinces are currently holding a One Tambon One Product (OTOP) Fair in Udon Thani with a view to showing the readiness of Thai entrepreneurs to enter the ASEAN Economic Community. The fair opens from now until March 7th from 11a.m. to 10 p.m.

According to the organizers, the event provides another distribution channel for OTOP products and also an incentive for producers to produce high quality goods for the regional market. The fair is being organized in line with the policies of the Government and the Department of Community Development.

There are 150 stalls of vendors selected from all over the nation, the organizers indicated, adding that 50 other stalls from Udon Thani’s agricultural sector and another 50 food stalls from the previously held OTOP City 2014 are also taking part in the fair.

The event also offers live performances and art shows and exhibitions.

Crown Prince changes Emerald Buddha’s costume to that of the summer season

BANGKOK, 6 March 2015 (NNT) His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn on Thursday (March 5) represented His Majesty the King at the ceremony of changing the costume of the Emerald Buddha image, at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in the Grand Palace.

His Royal Highness, accompanied by his eldest daughter, Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha, arrived at the temple at 5.40 p.m. to perform the ritual of changing the costume of the Emerald Buddha image from the winter season cloak to the summer season attire made of pure gold. The attire includes a diamond studded headdress. The change of the costume from the winter gown to that of the summer takes place every year on the first waning moon of the fourth lunar month, considered the first day of summer.

This ceremony was dated back to the reign of King Rama I who then built two seasonal costumes for the Emerald Buddha image – one for the summer season and the other for the rainy season. King Rama III had another costume made for the winter season. The costume used today was built by King Rama IX in 1996 to replace the old one which is 200 years old and becomes irreparable.

After changing the Buddha image’s costume, His Royal Highness sprinkled lustral water on officials who were attending the ceremony inside the ubosoth and then permitted the Brahmin priests to pass consecrated candles known as 'Waen Wian Thian' to members of the Royal Family and officials, in a gesture of blessing. After the Wian Thian ceremony, His Royal Highness sprinkled lustral water on people who came to observe the ritual outside the temple.

Princess Soamsawali awards outstanding working woman of the year

BANGKOK, 6 March 2015 (NNT) Her Royal Highness Princess Soamsawali yesterday (March 5) presided over the ceremony of presenting plaques of honor to women who have been selected Outstanding Women of the Year 2015, at a hotel in Bangkok.

The award presentation was held in conjunction with the International Women’s Day, March 8, 2015. It was organized by the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare, Ministry of Labour with a view to honoring women who have played an exemplary role in promoting women’s right and in the implementation of women development.

This year, a total of 29 women have been selected as outstanding working women. They represented women in six groups namely those working in the executive level, those working in the operational level, those taking independent careers, those in the labor sector and the mass media, and women in the development organizations network.

Thailand, through the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare, has been campaigning for the right of woman labour by raising public awareness on the importance of working women and promoting equal opportunities in workplaces as well as developing their legal knowledge for the benefit of their lives and families. This year’s theme for the International Women’s Day celebration in Thailand is on the power of women in national reform.

Buriram water usage jumps, as drought rages on

BURIRAM, 6 Mar 2015, (NNT) As the haze weather condition from drought rages on, the Northeastern Province of Buriram has reported that its average daily water usage of the local has jumped to 21,000 cubic meters, an increase of 2-3,000 cubic meter from the usual.

According to the Waterworks Office in Buriram, the temperature in the Northeastern region at this time of year is between 36-38 degrees Celsius during the day, and will likely be even higher during the month of April and May, the hottest period of the year.

According to officials, the locals reportedly consumed 653,000 cubic meters of water during April of last year. The figure is expected to remain the same or even higher this year.

In order to avoid water shortages, the provincial waterworks and the irrigation office plan to release water from the nearby Huay Talad Reservoir to the Huay Jorakay Reservoir, the province's source of raw water for tap water production.

To prevent shortages, the Office plans to draw more water from the Mart river if needed, said the officials, adding that the province would need up to 10 million cubic meters of water for consumption this year.

Roi Et holds an exposition on traditional Thai and alternative medicines

ROI ET, 6 Mar 2015 (NNT) Roi Et Province is currently holding an exposition on the Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine.

Director General of the Department of Thai Traditional and Complementary Medicine, Dr. Twatchai Kamontham, yesterday chaired the opening ceremony of the exposition which was being held at the Somdet Phrasrinakarin Garden in Roi Et.

The event is the 7th of its kind, and is a part of the local annual ‘Bun Phawet’ merit making festival. The exposition showcases new innovations and exhibition on the Thai traditional and complementary medicines and their application in the era of the ASEAN Economic Community.

The fair is also an excellent ground for experts in the field to mingle and exchange their ideas.

Event goers can also purchase a wide range of herbal medicines and try out Thai traditional treatment at the fair.

Organizers expect that more than 10-thousand people including practitioners, health officials and interested youths would visit the exposition this year.

The new Land and House Tax Collection Bill is expected to be promulgated within the next 2 years

BANGKOK, 6 Mar 2015 (NNT) Deputy Prime Minister M.R. Pridiyathorn Devakula told press members that the Cabinet would grill the new land and house tax collection scheme within the next 2 weeks, while expecting its promulgation in 2 years’ time.

M.R. Pridiyathorn briefly explained that the new scheme would collect tax starting from 0.1% of the land price, from the owner of a land with building. He added the tax for land without a construction would be slightly higher than before, and the tax for land with residential building would be as much as that of annual vehicle tax.

He expected the new bill would be promulgated within the next 2 years. In the meantime, the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency, or GISDA, needs to survey the entire area and constructions in the country while the Treasury Department should work out prices of land in different parts of the country.

As for a hike in the Value Added Tax, the Deputy Prime Minister said there is no indication of the hike for the moment, adding that the necessity of the move may be negated if the Government implements the new land and house tax collection scheme. However, he said the amount of tax collected from February would also contribute to the decision.

M.R. Pridiyathorn admitted that the amount of tax collected last month may be lower than that of January, but expressed his confidence that the figure would be higher than the one in the same period last year by 7-8%.

He said the number signals an improvement in public spending, despite the falling Consumer Confidence Index last month.




Back to Main Page

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Govt.: Land and house tax collection necessary

NBTC to discuss CAT’s internal restructuring in mid-March

NRC President assures only charter without flaw will be put to use

NLA approves draft law on infectious animal diseases.

CDC: Election to take place with 180 days after new charter is in effect

Nan Province to hold Thai Heritage Conservation Day activity during 2-6 Apr

PM vows to promote women's rights on International Women's Day

Chaiyaphum holds national reform opinion forum

Security & transport authorities discuss accident prevention plans for Songkran

TCELS receives positive feedback from BioAsia event

S. Korea, UAE to jointly penetrate new renewable energy markets

China to reduce coal consumption for better air

NRC: religious reform is only an idea

Ratchaburi to hold public hearings on national reform

Rescue units on standby as thunderstorms about to affect 40 provinces.

Udon Thani holds an OTOP fair, highlighting traders' readiness to enter the AEC

Crown Prince changes Emerald Buddha’s costume to that of the summer season

Princess Soamsawali awards outstanding working woman of the year

Buriram water usage jumps, as drought rages on

Roi Et holds an exposition on traditional Thai and alternative medicines

The new Land and House Tax Collection Bill is expected to be promulgated within the next 2 years



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