Business sector points to marginal slowdown in growth rate
Government forecasts of runaway economic growth this year
were recently tempered by the publication of a survey of business owners
pointing to expectations a slight drop in the rate of economic expansion.
The second quarter survey of the Bank of Thailand (BOT) of 109 business
owners found that most felt that the economy would continue to witness
favorable growth this year, but that the rate of expansion might be
marginally down on last year.
The respondents attributed this to a slight slowdown in
the growth of consumption and export of some items due to the extremely high
base situation in 2003. They also voiced fears that the unrest in the
southern border region could have an impact on tourism revenue.
On a more positive note, the respondents dismissed
suggestions that Thailand could be entering into a period of another
economic bubble. They also pointed to a rise in investment and exports in a
number of sectors, particularly production, construction, and
transportation, in response to the continuous rise in demand at home and
In terms of exports, according to the respondents,
rubber, electronic goods, furniture, steel and aluminum products are
continuing to do well as demand has risen in Japan, China, and the United
States. However, they also observed that the growth rate for goods such as
automobiles, property and cellular phones was likely to fall off.
The food industry, meanwhile, has reached a growth
plateau although companies are continuing to construct new production
On the international front, Thailand is experiencing
fierce competition, both in terms of trade barriers and the liberalization
of trade and investment. (TNA)
Commercial banks resume services in southern provinces
Two major commercial banks, Bangkok Bank Public Company
Limited and Krung Thai Bank Public Company Limited have resumed their
services in Yala, Songkhla, and Pattani following a closure due to fears of
the violence in the provinces, according to a TV news report. However, the
two banks will shorten their office hours by one hour daily for a certain
period of time.
Bangkok Bank has resumed its banking services at its
Sabayoi Branch in Songkhla; while Krung Thai Bank had resumed its services
at its branches in Yala, and Pattani.
The two commercial banks closed their branches in the
provinces on April 28 when the latest violence took place, leading to hours
of heavy clashes between local police and military officers and insurgents.
The Bank of Thailand (BOT) has allowed executives of
local banks to consider operating their services in unusual circumstances,
with local conditions to be taken into account. (TNA)
MOE downplays concern
over sharp rise in capped fuel prices
The Ministry of Energy (MOE) recently downplayed concerns
of a sharp increase in the capped prices of gasoline by 80 satang per liter.
Energy Minister Prommin Lertsuridej said he had not yet made a final
decision on the mater and was monitoring fuel prices in the world market to
see a clear direction before making any decision.
He conceded prices of crude and retail oil had
significantly risen, but said that the price capping measure was still
needed because it could help contain higher inflation rates.
Dr Prommin said the joint working committee comprising
representatives from the Energy, Commerce, Finance, and Transport Ministries
as well as the National Economic and Social Development Board would meet on
April 30 to decide whether the capped price of gasoline should be adjusted
upward or not.
Kiatipong Noichaiboon, vice chairman of the Federation of
Thai Industries, said the adjustment of the capped prices would have a
certain impact on transportation costs of entrepreneurs. But it would not
have enough effect to justify the product price increase. He said the price
adjustment, if made on gasoline only, would have little impact on the
transportation costs. Still, should the adjustment be made on diesel oil
prices, it might fuel the product price rise.
However, a source at the ministry said the question on
whether the capped fuel prices would be adjusted upward would be settled by
the beginning of May and it was likely the government would gradually
increase the capped prices by 30-50 satang per liter. (TNA)
Phuket gets tough on wastewater release
Officials in the southern resort island of Phuket insist
that they are taking tough measures to prevent the illegal release of
wastewater into the sea, following a barrage of complaints concerning hotels
Admitting that the provincial authorities had received
several complaints concerning the unauthorized release of untreated
wastewater and sewage, Phuket provincial clerk Wissawa Sasisamit conceded
that one of the problems stemmed from hotels which were springing up without
planning permission. The latest incident involved complaints concerning a
hotel said to be releasing untreated sewage into the sea near the Trai Trang
However, inspections by local officials found that the
hotel had adequate sewage treatment systems, prompting the inspectors to
speculate that the wastewater had come from a location above the hotel.
Wissawa took pains to stress that the province had
stringent regulations against the release of untreated wastewater into the
Last month, tourists to the island were alarmed by the
presence of green algae covering some of the province’s beaches, a
phenomenon apparently caused by untreated sewage. (TNA)
Naraiphand handicraft center selected as OTOP distribution outlet
Naraiphand, a prominent handicraft center and the Temple of
the Emerald Buddha were selected as distribution outlets for local goods under
One Tambon One Product (OTOP) scheme, according to Finance Minister Somkid
Somkid who also chairs the National OTOP Administrative
Committee (NOAC) said that the Industry and Commerce Ministries mutually
agreed to use the whole area of Naraiphand as a distribution center for OTOP
products. “Naraiphand is situated in a very good location in the heart of
the city and also near major tourist attractions. The place will also be an
overseas trading center,” he said.
The areas inside the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in
Bangkok and in front of the Export Promotion Office in the northern province
of Chiang Mai were selected to be OTOP distribution centers so that it would
be convenient for tourists to buy the products, the Finance Minister said.
OTOP is a government project to generate income to local communities
nationwide by developing and marketing products made in each community from
local materials, such as handicrafts, textiles, clothes, jewelry, furniture,
decorative items, food and beverages. OTOP Business Promotion Office will also
be established as an independent organization to oversee the whole process of
OTOP production, marketing and distributing, Somkid added. (TNA)
rolls out mobile business advice units
A senior ministry official recently announced that The
Ministry of Commerce has set up mobile business advice units offering a
one-stop consultation service for conducting business at home and abroad.
Karun Kittsathaporn, permanent secretary for commerce
explained that the units would give advice on electronic commerce and general
business information, as well as help publicize the ministry’s activities.
The units will remain in each location for five days, with three trips within
Bangkok and five trips around the country.
In Bangkok, businesspeople and members of the public will
be able to visit the units on 11-17 May at Central Pinklao department store,
on 22-26 May at Central Bang Na, and on 10-16 June at Central Rama III.
The units will then take to the provinces, traveling to
Songkhla on 30 June-4 July, Chiang Mai on 14-18 July, Nakhon Ratchasima on
6-11 August, Chonburi on 20-24 August and Udon Thani on 3-7 September. (TNA)
Thailand sets up new Business
Council with 6 South Asian nations
The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) is joining hands
with six South Asian nations to establish a joint Thai-South Asian Business
Council in order to boost bilateral investment and tap into South Asia’s
massive consumer market.
Announcing the move on April 28, FTI president Praphat
Bodhivorakhun said that the new 7-member business council would serve to
promote trade and investment between Thailand and South Asia. The seven
members are Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and
Prapat explained the FTI’s decision by pointing to South
Asia’s huge population of over 1.4 billion, high purchasing power, favorable
investment opportunities and abundance of raw materials for use in industry.
The first meeting of the Business Council will be attended
by businesspeople and diplomats from all seven members, and will focus on the
direction that cooperative dealings will take. (TNA)
Foreign workers get nod for legal registration
Illegal immigrants from Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar will be
able to register as legal workers under a new government scheme, according to
the announcement made last week by Labor Minister Uraiwan Thienthong.
Uraiwan said that the Labor Ministry scheme had now
received the nod of approval from the Cabinet, paving the way for the official
registration of illegal immigrant workers.
Under the first phase of the scheme, the Interior Ministry
will be responsible for the registration of foreign workers and their families
from 15 June to 15 September this year.
The scheme will provide an affective amnesty for illegal
workers, who will be issued with 13-digit identification cards. However, while
no legal action will be taken against them, they will be regarded as illegal
immigrants for a further year following registration.
Under the second phase of the scheme, the Labor Ministry will draw up
systems for the employment of foreign labor. The registered workers will be
permitted to work in six sectors: crop farming, fisheries and related
activities, livestock farm hands, general laborers, factories and household