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Vol. XIII No. 12
Friday March 25 - March 31, 2005

Business News
Community Happenings
Dining Out & Entertainment
Kids Corner
Our Community
Social Scene
Who's who

Sophon TV-Guide
Clubs in Pattaya


All Back Issues

Pattaya Mail
About Us
Advertising Rates

Fun City By The Sea

Updated every Friday
by Saichon Paewsoongnern


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]: 

Deposit Insurance Institute to be set up this year

Beer Chang boss makes it to list of worlds richest

KRC supports BOTs consumer loan control

Government to provide clean water to all villages

Thailand at global forefront of digital camera boon

Army hands first permanent houses to tsunami survivors

Plans to standardize herbs

Thai-Lao border trade looks promising

Major road show set in April

Total vehicle sales drop in February

Deposit Insurance Institute to be set up this year

The Deposit Insurance Institute will be established within this year, but the adoption of full deposit insurance services is expected to take around four years, according to the Bank of Thailand.

Tarisa Wattanagase, BOTs deputy governor overseeing the Financial Institutions Stability Group, disclosed the establishment of the institute was likely to be completed within this year. Then, the insured amount range under the Deposit Insurance Institute Act will be drawn up. It is expected the institute will need around four years to provide full services.

A source said the Deposit Insurance ACT has already won the cabinets approval and will going before parliament. Once the institute is established with full services, the guarantee of the bank deposits by the Financial Institutions Development will be terminated.

According to the latest regulation, the deposit guarantee amount will gradually reduce in the next four years. Under the rule, the institute will guarantee the bank deposit of no more than 50 million baht per account in the first year, 25 million in the second year, 10 million in the third year and one million in the fourth year.

On the Finance Ministrys plan to separate the authority of supervising financial institutions from that of the central bank, she said the matter was under the consideration of the ministrys officials. It has not yet been discussed at the policy-making level. (TNA)

Beer Chang boss makes it to list of worlds richest

The owner of Thailands Beer Chang brewery has made it onto the Forbes list of the 600 richest people in the world for the first time this year, joining the heads of Red Bull and Charoen Phokaphand.

Charoen Siriwattanaphakdee, who made 194th place on the list with the wealth of US$3 billion, has built up the Beer Chang and Mekong empire to the extent that it now sponsors a major UK football club.

Also on the list in 292nd place is Chaliew Yuwittaya, manufacturer of Red Bull stimulant drinks, and Thanin Jierawanon, president of the Charoen Phokaphand food group, in 387th place.

Charoens presence in the Forbes list of top billionaires for the first time this year has been attributed to his listing of Beer Chang on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET).

But the three Thai business leaders have a long way to go to climb to the top of the Forbes ladder, where the number one and two spots are occupied by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett respectively. (TNA)

KRC supports BOTs consumer loan control

The Bank of Thailands measure to strictly supervise the consumer loan business will help reduce exploitation of interest rate and fee charges on consumers and improve the quality of loans in the system, according to the Kasikorn Research Center.

The leading think tank said it is likely the central bank will issue the measure to oversee the consumer loan business in the future following its discussion with commercial banks and non-bank financial institutions about the interest rate and fee charges on consumer loans. It viewed the measure would focus on protection of consumers from unfair interest rate and fee charges, and control of risks on the increase in future household debts.

Should the central bank set the ceiling of consumer loan rates, it would help cope with the unfair interest rate charges and indirectly force business operators to take risks at an appropriate level.

If the BOT sets a minimum income of loan applicants, it will help reduce the number of low-income consumers who run the risks of creating debts in a greater amount than they could bear. At the same time, it would help control risks operators from lending to this customer group. However, the strict criteria might force low-income consumers to count more on underground loans because they could not access to formal ones, he admitted.

KRC added that the measure to set the ceiling of the interest rates would result in an adjustment and change in business performance of operators in a different manner, depending on the target group of customers and the extent of risks they could take. But given the fact that most operators currently manage their loan portfolios quite efficiently, it believed they would opt to reduce costs and increase revenue from other products to ensure returns meet the original target and the business expands more steadily.

KRC said repercussions from the consumer loan control would be more extensive than those from the credit card supervision since the customer base covers both low-and medium-income consumers. (TNA)

Government to provide clean water to all villages

The Thai governments water management and development plan will be launched in the Moon River basin in the northeast and the Ping River basin in the north. Under the scheme, around ten small dams will be built in both river basins, according to the deputy permanent secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, Siriphong Hangsaphruek.

There are also plans to establish a large scale irrigation program to levy water from neighboring countries, including Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, into both river basins. More than 10 billion cubic meters of water is expected to be added to the river systems.

Government agencies discussed the countrys overall water management scheme late last month. Initial results from the development study will be submitted to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra later this month, Siriphong said.

The government plans to complete a 60 billion baht program to provide clean water to all villages in Thailand within the next four years. The entire program will require more than 220 billion baht. (TNA)

Thailand at global forefront of digital camera boon

Thailand is emerging as one of the leading countries in the world for sales of digital cameras, with one million units set to leave the shelves this year, thanks to government tax measures, according to a key industry professional.

Boonjert Hanwichitchai, deputy director for operations of IT City Plc, says that the digital camera market in Thailand is set to record a high rate of growth this year, with sales expected to exceed one million units, compared to 800,000 last year and 600,000 in 2003.

Predicting that Thailand could become a global center of the digital camera trade, he notes that all the worlds leading digital camera manufacturers are now keen to get their latest models onto the Thai market, while increasing numbers of foreigners are purchasing digital cameras during their trips to the kingdom.

One of the main causes of this latter phenomenon is the governments tax refund scheme for foreign visitors, as well as a recent move to slash taxes on digital cameras from 3 percent to zero percent. As a result, digital cameras purchased in Thailand now even cheaper than those bought in Singapore and Hong Kong. (TNA)

Army hands first permanent houses to tsunami survivors

Residents of Baan Nam Khem Village in Thailands southern resort province of Phang-nga who survived the devastating December tsunamis were given their first new permanent houses by the Royal Thai Army on March 12. The houses - numbering a total of 117 - were handed to the survivors by the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army, Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan.

The Royal Thai Army has been told by the government to construct 800 permanent houses for the tsunami survivors. Most of those handed over on the day are houses which incorporate areas for trade. (TNA)

Plans to standardize herbs

In an attempt to raise the standard of Thai herbs, the government plans to request researchers in both the public and private sectors to jointly conduct research to create better quality control.

There is a need for better quality control and standards of Thai herbal materials in order to raise consumer confidence, according to the director-general of the Public Health Ministrys Department Medical Sciences, Paijit Warachit. The problem of quality control of Thai herbs occurs frequently because of differences of seeds, age, environment, sub-standard production and foreign substances found in finished products, he said. Stricter quality control will help improve international recognition, he noted.

The government plans to involve the Thai herbal products industry in government strategies. Researchers will be invited to help establish standards and quality control for Thai herbs used in manufacturing medicines, supplementary food and cosmetics. The government plans to establish a laboratory center which will conduct tests and issue certificates guaranteeing the Thai herbs quality, he added. (TNA)

Thai-Lao border trade looks promising

Bilateral trade along the Thai-Lao border is continuously expanding after the opening of the ThaiLao Nam Hueng Friendship Bridge linking Thailands northeastern Loei Province and the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic, according to a senior commercial official.

The bridge across the Hueng River, the demarcation line between the two sister countries, boosts trade, investment, and culture, said the provinces chief commercial official, Koonchai Chaichat.

The trade value recorded at three permanent border checkpoints in Loeis Chiang Khan District totaled 127 million baht in February. Thai export to Laos accounted for 69 million baht and import valued at 57 million baht. Therefore, Thailands trade surplus with Laos stands at 11.49 million baht.

The major exports are construction materials, cars, consumer goods, and fuel. The imports include wood, processed wood products, crops and minerals.

The problem now is that the rise of oil prices also raises the costs of production affecting Thai and Lao entrepreneurs, Koonchai said. They also lack of confidence in trade direction, as Thailands Ministry of Finance has not yet announced tax exemption for Laos eight items under the ASEAN Integration System of Preference (AISP) Program, he said.

He added that goods such as corn and pearl barley flooded into the market and traders have asked for tax exemption, but there has been no official announcement to grant the trade privilege. (TNA)

Major road show set in April

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak disclosed there will be a major road show this April of listed companies similar to last years successful Thailand Focus event. Somkid, who is also the finance minister, said he had a discussion with the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) to set an appropriate period for the organization of what he described as one of the countrys biggest road shows of listed firms.

The objective of the event is to give investors a clear direction of the economy so they will have more confidence in the local capital market. He said he will also take the opportunity to use the event to stimulate the countrys tourism by offering attractive tour packages to participating investors.

Somkid suggested the event should be organized in late April after the governments schedule to deliver its policy before parliament during March 23-25 so that investors are aware of how the government will manage the economy and administer the country. As well, it is the post-Songkran (Thai New Year) festival period when most listed companies are set to release their quarterly performance results. Should the listed firms enjoy more profits than estimated in their performance, it would be helpful to the investment atmosphere in the stock market.

He also revealed the ministrys budget on the investment in mega-projects has been allocated at around 1.55 trillion baht, down from 2.33 trillion originally offered by project bidders. Somkid said the ministry will give priority to investment projects that need to be implemented urgently and those in which the government has never invested. It is expected the whole investment plan will be concluded soon. (TNA)

Total vehicle sales drop in February

Total vehicles in February were reduced by 4% from those in the same month of the previous year, signaling the decline of peoples purchasing power.

Vallop Tiewsiri, director of the Automobile Institute, said, The country is facing several problems now including higher fuel prices, rising interest rates, drought, southern violence, and the legacy of the tsunami attacks.

Many automakers are considering decreasing the estimate of total sales for this year to around 680,000 units from 700,000 units. Last year, total sales were 628,000 units. One the other hand, the industry is not too concerned because they have received enough purchase orders in advance.

This year, exports are expected to reach 420,000-450,000 units compared with only 330,000 units last year. Vallop projected vehicle prices will not rise despite impacts from higher fuel and steel prices since competition in the business is still fierce. More importantly, steel costs account for only 25% of the whole vehicle production. (TNA)

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