BANGKOK, 7 May 2015 - The Ministry of Commerce has urged the Royal Thai Police to expedite its investigation into the rice deal fraud case, saying a prolonged trial would affect its plan to sell stockpiled rice in July.

President of the Board of the Public Warehouse Organization (PWO) Jintana Chaiyawannakan said the case involves poor quality rice being stored in the PWO warehouses.

The inferior rice accounts for 20 percent of all its stockpiled rice, or 1.75 million tons.

Ms. Jintana said that once the police investigation is concluded, the PWO would file a lawsuit against the suspects of the case.

BANGKOK, 7 May 2015- 38 police officers believed to have been involved in the trafficking of Rohingyas have been transferred to the Royal Thai Police Operations Center, while the investigation is still underway.

According to Royal Thai Police Chief Police General Somyos Pumpanmuang, new police officers will be appointed to fill those vacancies, while the 38 officers in question will remain at the Police Operations Center for the duration of the investigation.

Some of those suspected of accommodating human trafficking included high-ranking police officers, such as superintendents and sub-inspectors.

Other officers held positions in immigration, anti-human trafficking and marine police divisions.

BANGKOK, 7 May 2015 - The Ministry of Commerce revealed that Japan has imposed a new regulation on labeling health-related products, which might benefit local exporters.

Department of International Trade Promotion Director-General Nantawan Sakuntanaga stated that the code is more lenient than before, enabling Thai exporters to advertise their products’ quality more easily.

She also expressed her optimism that the new code would help health food exports to grow 17 percent in 2017 from 2013.

According to the department’s Japanese counterpart in Osaka, the new regulation has been in effect since April.

BANGKOK, 7 May 2015- Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed officials to expedite assistance to drought-affected farmers, while introducing a subsidy on agricultural equipment.

BANGKOK, 7 May 2015 - The Office of Industrial Economics (OIE) has been encouraging the Thai fashion and design industry to invest in human resources of neighboring countries, in order to cut labor costs.

OIE Director Udom Wongwiwatchai said that textile and jewelry manufacturers should take advantage of cheap labor, especially in Laos and Cambodia.

These countries are currently benefiting from the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which allows them to export goods to the United States without tariffs.

This makes the cost of production and labor significantly more affordable to manufacturers. Mr. Udom added that the logistics of neighboring countries make it easier for them to oversee production.

However, many manufacturers have been reluctant to move their production base overseas, due to a lack of knowledge or capital.

The OIE is expected to work with relevant agencies to help them learn more about each country, how they can establish efficient logistics and how they can raise capital.

BANGKOK, 7 May 2015 - Digital TV operators have agreed with The National Broadcasting Telecommunication and Commission (NBTC) that the payment for digital TV broadcasting fee should be put off until next year.

According to the NBTC, the recent forum held among 24 digital TV channels indicated that they all concurred with the NBTC’s decision to postpone the second license fee payment for another year.

They claimed that the slow economy had delayed the implementation of the digital TV system. While the system was not fully functional and their viewership remained so low, they were already required to make the second fee payment.

They would be obligated to pay a charge of 7.5% interest per year to the NBTC if they failed to make payment before the deadline. They also urged the broadcasting authority to extend future due dates for other payments by another year.

MYAWADDY, 7 May 2015  – The governor of Tak yesterday met with his counterpart from Myawaddy to discuss on possible activities that would tighten the Sister Cities' relations.

The governor of Tak Somchai Hatayatanti, along with provincial officials yesterday made a call to the governor of Myawaddy of Myanmar, Lui Go U, to discuss the guidelines for activities that would be held to tighten the relations of both ‘Sister Cities’.

On this occasion, the governor of Tak thanked the Myawaddy governor who helped dispatch troops tasked with solving the ‘No Man Land’ island issue, which is located in the middle of the Moei River. He also asked for Myanmar's cooperation on the suppression of human trafficking and narcotics smuggling along the border area.

Both governors discussed the progress of the Ban Valley Mai - Nong Luang - Umphang road renovations at the Ban Valley border crossing, while the Ban Valley Mai Distirct Chief has requested assistance in providing electricity to the governor of Tak, who has already forwarded this matter to the Mae Sod Provincial Electrical Authority.

The Tak governor also invited the Myawaddy governor and other officials to attend the seminar on investment promotion in the Special Economic Zones in Tak province on 8 May 2015. The seminar will feature an exhibition and a lecture co-organized by the Myawaddy counterpart. The Myawaddy governor accepted this invitation and has forwarded the invitation to all interested entrepreneurs in Myawaddy.

Regarding the Mae Sod - Myawaddy cycling event set to take place on 30 May 2015, the Tak governor asked for cooperation from the Myawaddy authorities to provide staff to help facilitate the event as well.

The Myawaddy governor also invited the Tak governor to visit and pay respect to the construction of a new Buddhist pagoda, replicating the globally renowned one in Yangon, Myanmar. The pagoda has been under construction for 4 years, and the opening date for the Myawaddy public will be during 16-30 May 2015.

BANGKOK, 7 May 2015 – The Ministry of Commerce is now gearing up its strategy to push Thailand towards the ASEAN Community, with much anticipation on the benefits according to the designated plan, says an official.

The Deputy Director-General of the Department of Trade Negotiations (DTN) Arunee Poolkaew has revealed that the department has been pushing forward its strategic plan for pushing Thailand towards the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

She has said that about 80 percent of the plan has been completed, involving the amendment of laws and regulations in the related agencies, as well as creating the understanding about the AEC to all sectors to help increase the potential of Thai businesses and raise competitiveness.

The DTN Deputy Director-General has said that Thailand is set to receive various benefits from the integration of the AEC, especially consumers and entrepreneurs who will have more choices and opportunities to expand markets. Thailand's export value is also set to expand in the ASEAN era.

The AEC will also allow the free flow of labour which will help create more jobs and revenue, while the Free Trade Area agreement with other countries outside the AEC will help extend trade and investment of Thai entrepreneurs to even more countries.

The DTN Deputy Director-General has added that the integration of the AEC on 31 December 2015 will help strengthen the community, bringing in new challenges and opportunities. He repeated that the public be aware and knowledgeable about the AEC to prepare themselves for the upcoming changes.

BANGKOK, 7 May 2015 - The National Reform Council (NRC) has been compiling amendment proposals on the draft constitution, focusing on provisions for political bodies.

According to the Chairman of the NRC’s law and justice system reform committee Seree Suwanpanont, most NRC members have strong opinions towards revising the electoral system and the composition of Parliament.

He believed that members of the House of Representatives should be fully elected, tying the Lower House to the will of the people.

In the event that the constitution retains parallel electoral systems, Mr. Seree said the ratio of directly-elected MP’s should be significantly higher than party-listed MP’s.

The NRC member also disagreed on the composition of the new reform committee, which would include 60 NRC members. He reasoned that the NRC’s influence would spill into post-election politics.

Amendment proposals from the NRC’s justice committee take into consideration the opinions of law academics across the country.

BANGKOK, 7 May 2015 - The National Reform Council (NRC) has divided its members into eight groups to compose amendment proposals in each area while the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) has expressed readiness to consider all amendment proposals in a constructive matter.

According to NRC member Bhairote Brohmsarn, the proposals have been divided into eight main topics with NRC members assigned to each topic based on their expertise. Main topics include the political system, state administration and local administration. He was confident that the members would be able to compile the proposals within the specified time frame.

On the other hand, CDC Spokesperson Assoc Prof Woothisarn Tanchai said the CDC is not troubled by the potentially large amount of amendment proposals by the NRC, as the two bodies have been in close contact throughout the entire drafting process. He said the CDC is well aware that most of the proposals will be in relation to the composition of political bodies, adding that the CDC welcomes any constructive discussion on the matter.

Once the proposals have been received, the CDC will hold discussions to consider the proposals accordingly, Prof Woothisarn said.