BANGKOK, 26 February 2015 - The Meteorological Department has forecast that Thailand will receive lower precipitation and become warmer during the day.

The high pressure system moving toward the Northeast of Thailand from China is expected to bring thunderstorms to the region from February 28th- March 2nd.

The North will remain cold during the same period in the morning. The temperature will vary between 13-22 degrees Celsius and rise to 34 degrees Celsius at midday.

The temperature will rise slightly higher in the Central Plains. The lowest and the highest forecast will be from 22 to 38 degrees Celsius with thundershowers predicted in 10% of the area.

The weather conditions in the South of Thailand will be similar to the central region. The lowest temperature will be 23 degrees Celsius and it will reach 33 degree Celsius during the day. Maximum wave heights have been forecast to reach 1-2 meters in the Gulf of Thailand.

PATTANI, 26 Feb 2015 - The Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center (SBPAC) has launched a special Thai language program for local children in the Deep South. 

BANGKOK, 26 February 2015 - The 21st round of petroleum concession bidding is now expected to take place between September and October this year, according to Energy Minister Narongchai Akrasanee.

The minister indicated on Tuesday his ministry was canceling the current round of applications for petroleum exploration and production, which originally would have lasted until March 16. The annulment would make way for amendment to the B.E. 2514 law on petroleum, slated to be completed within three months. The amendment will bring changes to the existing conditions for production sharing contracts (PSC), according to the Energy Minister. The 21st round of petroleum concession grants is now expected to take place between September and October, said Mr. Narongchai.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam revealed that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was satisfied with the findings from the forum on the 21st round of petroleum concession grants. He said the forum proceeded constructively and the the arguments presented during the discussions were of enough weight. Therefore, the Ministry of Energy has been assigned the responsibility of analyzing the conclusions that will be yielded from the joint committee addressing the concession grants issue.

Mr. Wissanu said the government has not imposed a time frame, but it will inform the National Legislative Assembly of the urgent requirement of the new bill that will facilitate the granting of the petroleum concessions.

BANGKOK, 26 February 2015 - The Cabinet has approved the borrowing of 40 billion baht for the Ministry of Transport to use in making improvements to highways, and also approved the setting up of a National Savings Fund.

M.R. Pridiyathorn Devakula, Deputy Prime Minister, said after Tuesday's meeting of economic ministers that the meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, has approved, in principle, the setting up of the National Savings Fund. The draft of the associated bill will be considered by the Cabinet of Ministers on March 4. The National Savings Fund will benefit workers who are currently not covered by provident funds or pension schemes. Around one million persons who are registered with the Social Security Fund will become associated with the National Savings Fund, according to M.R. Pridiyathorn.

Approval was also given for the Ministry of Finance to borrow 40 billion baht to fund highways improvement projects by the Ministry of Transport. The money will be borrowed from abroad, and currency swap will be employed to reduce risks associated with currency values, according to the Deputy Prime Minister.

BANGKOK, 25 February 2015 - Military units nationwide have been told to act in accordance with the Ministry of Defense's disaster mitigation plan for people afflicted by the current dry spell.

General Prawit Wongsuwon, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, reiterated during Tuesday's meeting of the Defense Council that all military units are to support the affairs of the National Council for Peace and Order and the government, according to Defense Ministry spokesman, Colonel Kongcheep Tantrawanich. Emphasis was made on having military units lend assistance to people afflicted by drought.

The spokesperson indicated that military units were also told to support the government's initiative to allocate land for the underprivileged, by undertaking surveys of unused land.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015 11:58

New 100 baht bills to be in use from 26 Feb

BANGKOK, 24 February 2015 - The Bank of Thailand (BOT) has unveiled the latest version of 100 baht banknote, equipped with advanced anti-counterfeiting features. The new banknotes are scheduled to be circulated to the public on 26 February 2015.

According to the BOT’s Deputy Governor Corporate Support Services and Banknote Management Paiboon Kittisrikangwan, the BOT has launched the 16th edition of the 100 baht banknote to replace the current edition that has been in circulation for 9 years.

The new 100 baht notes have been designed in honour to King Taksin the Great under the concept of ‘Honouring the Thai Monarch’. The artwork on the banknotes has been beautifully designed while integrating modern anti-counterfeiting features that allows for the easy verification by the public, private sectors, financial institutes, and the visually impaired.

The BOT’s Assistant Governor Banknote Management Group Woraporn Tangsaghasaksri said that the latest 100 baht bill still utilizes the same dimensions and colour as the previous version.

New anti-counterfeiting features have pushed production costs up by 20-30 percent when compared to the previous version of banknotes. Approximately 1.2 billion 100 baht banknotes of the old versions are still in circulation, said the BOT’s Assistant Governor.

The BOT will introduce the new 100 banknotes to the public on 26 February 2015. The public are able to exchange their existing banknotes for the new ones at all bank offices nationwide, while the previous versions will still be valid for payments.

BANGKOK, 25 February 2015 - The Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) is making Article 75 in the new charter the basis for ethics expected of politicians and leaders within the state sector.

CDC member Pakorn Priyakorn spoke to reporters after Monday's assembly for deliberation of the new permanent constitution, which centered on the topic of 'good political leaders' and 'political institutions'. Mr. Pakorn said of Article 75, that it stipulated the standard of ethics that must be observed by political office holders and other leaders within the state sector. The article also observed the ethics code provided by the national assembly for virtues. According to Mr. Pakorn, the article included stipulations on the separation of personal affairs from official duties, and the placing of the benefit of the whole above personal gains or the benefit of any particular group.

Mr. Pakorn said the article was written in accord with the input of the public.

RANONG, 24 Feb 2015, Ranong Tourism and Sports Office yesterday announced the province will promote the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) via a bicycle race to Myanmar, set for this weekend.

The event is a combined effort by the Provincial Tourism & Sports office, the Muang Municipality, the Provincial Administration Office, Ranong Chamber of Commerce, the province’s Civil Development Office, the Tourism Promotion Office, and Ranong Cycling Club.

The race is also aimed at promoting the tourism potential of both Ranong and Myanmar’s Maliwan, while preparing for the advent of the AEC later in the year.

The race will start from the Raksawarin Hot Springs on Saturday February 28th and head to the Phonrang Hot Springs. Racers will then bike to Baan Ngaw Market before visiting the provinces other tourist attractions.

The race would then move to Myanmar on Sunday, March 1st, the second day of the event. Bikers will race for 86 kilometers before stopping to visit Thai temples in Maliwan, and sharing a meal at an orphanage, before ending the the event by racing their bicycles back to Thailand’s Ranong.

TRAT, 24 Feb 2015, Inspector General of the Interior Ministry Wichit Chartpisit has paid a visit to Trat Province, one of the Special Economic Zones (SEZ).

His visit was aimed at inspecting the progress of the preparation of the area for the establishment of the SEZ ahead of the coming of the ASEAN Economic Community at the end of the year.

According to Mr. Wichit, the province is progressing smoothly with many of the key milestones met as targeted even though several projects, such as the construction of the Klongyai pier and the renovation plan for the highway number 3 linking Trat and Hadlek ( หาดเล็ก), have had minor hiccups; for example, the lack of clear demarcation line in some areas has sometimes made it difficult for the joint development project to progress as earlier planned, the Inspector General said.

Furthermore, the checkpoint at Baan-had-lek has become congested, given there are no separate screening points for traders and for tourists, making the inspection process lengthy.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has stressed the need to reform the country’s irrigation and water resource management throughout the entire system.

During his televised national address in the program “Return Happiness to the People,” the Prime Minister said that the problem of water management has been accumulating for a long time and previous governments had spent a great amount of money to deal with this problem.

He pointed out that all water management-related projects must be integrated, so that flood and drought problems would be tackled more effectively. There are currently more than 30 million farmers in Thailand. Out of this number, about 20 million are in the irrigation system, covering an area of 29 million rai (11 million acres). The area is considered quite low.

The Prime Minister said that the Government intended to expand the area to cover 50 or 60 million rai (20-24 million acres) by 2018-2019. As for the period from 2015 to 2016, the Government aims to increase the irrigation area to cover 30 million rai (12 million acres). Apart from expanding the irrigation area, the Government will dig more ponds and build more reservoirs to provide additional water supplies that farmers can use to grow crops.

Other tasks include flood prevention and water storage improvement to prevent water shortages. As for efforts to ease water shortages for consumption, the Government is accelerating waterworks expansion, and it expects that by 2019, all villages in Thailand will have their own waterworks systems.

Prime Minister Prayut cited water resource management as an important issue, as Thailand is an agricultural country. He said that a committee of the National Council for Peace and Order had submitted a water resource management plan to the Cabinet for approval. The plan would be implemented continuously, depending on budget availability. The Prime Minister outlined major projects to be implemented in the next 10 years to deal with this issue.

For instance, in order to ease water shortages for agriculture, the Government will enhance the efficiency of the existing irrigation scheme, develop new water sources, and rehabilitate natural waterways to increase water volume. As for the industrial sector, water networks in eastern Thailand will be developed.

In 2015, the Government will support water source development in special economic zones in Mae Sot district, Tak province, Aranyaprathet district in Sa Kaeo province, and Sadao district in Songkhla province. It will also develop water sources to support the service and tourism sector on Ko Chang in Trat and Ko Pha-ngan in Surat Thani in 2016.

Other projects include the development of waterworks in 7,490 villages, flood prevention in urban areas, improvement of water quality in 22 river basins, rehabilitation of watershed areas and prevention of soil erosion and water management in a systematic manner.

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