BANGKOK, 1 July 2015 – The recovery of the Thai economy is still slow and fragile and the drought problem now poses another risk factor to the recovery, says the Bank of Thailand (BOT).

Roong Mallikamas, Senior Director for Macroeconomic and Monetary Policy Department at the BOT, explained that for the month of May, tourism and state spending were the drivers of the economy while private sector consumption continued to slow. Consumption declined by 0.4% because of cautious spending by households. Private sector investment also dropped by 0.4%, due to businesses holding off on investments in machinery and equipment in the face of weak domestic and foreign demand for manufactured goods. She said exports shrank by 5.5% in May in line with the slow-down of ASEAN's and China's economies as well as the lackluster recovery of economies of the nation's trading partners such as the United States, Japan and Europe. The prices of many export articles also declined in line with the lowered price of crude oil.

According to Mrs. Roong, current economic risk factors include uncertainties in the global economic recovery, the risk of Greece's debt problem causing money market volatility, and diminished household income resulting from the drought.

The government has pledged to upgrade the quality of life of low-income earners within its three-year timeframe.

During his weekly talk program, Prime Minister and leader of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Prayut Chan-o-cha disclosed that the government’s life quality improvement program would place emphasis on underprivileged members of the society, particularly the poor and low-income earners.

Gen Prayut said the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security was tasked with working out development plans for Bangkok, while the Ministry of Interior would be in charge of other provinces. In an initial phase, related agencies will survey areas along railway routes to see which jobs will be suitable for people there.

In order for people to earn stable income, the government has planned to urbanize all upcountry towns so as to boost local businesses and employment. The premier added the urbanization was vital to lessen the burden of big cities and would also expedite improvement of infrastructures in small towns.

Prime Minister and National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Chief Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha revealed in his weekly TV program “Returning Happiness to the People” six strategies of sustainable water management for 2015-2026 the government has drawn up to handle all sorts of water challenges in the country.

Those strategies called for preparation of raw water for the production of tap water in 7,500 rural villages and 700 urban areas nationwide. This project will be implemented during 2015-2017 during which the efficiency of 9,000 existing water supply systems will be improved.

To ensure water security in the production sector, the government will build 369 new water storages, and excavate 50,000 ponds in farmland and 1,285 artesian wells in parallel with the recovery of 895 natural water resources. Gen Prayut said the government plans to expand irrigation areas in the country by 2.2 million rai in 2016, and by 8.7 million rai in 2026 when the strategies expire. By that time, the irrigation system will cover a total land area of 40 million rai, which is 10 million rai higher than the current amount.

On a three-year water management and flood control plan, Gen Prayut explained that the government will improve main water routes and 30 tributaries, stretching more than 75 km. in total, followed by raising 13 embankments to prevent soil erosion and floods.

Water quality is also a major concern. The government will develop 36 wastewater treatment plants and remove solid waste and weeds from 399 water sources nationwide. It will actively ensure salinity control in water supply throughout the whole year.

Gen Prayut said his last strategy involves conservation and rehabilitation of watershed forest areas and prevention of soil erosion. The government will conduct reforestation on a combined area of 25,000 rai and grow vetiver grass on 645,000 rai of land. These projects will be completed by the end of this September.

PHETCHABURI, 30 June 2015 - A seminar highlighting the role of the family unit in society has been held by the Phetchaburi Provincial Social Development and Human Security Office, open to civil servants and the general public.

The event yesterday gave a lecture on the importance of the human capital, which includes economic capital, social capital, and natural resources.

The seminar also gave an overview of the family situation in Thailand. Currently, the birthrate is declining and the number of marriages is shrinking, while the number of divorced couples is on the rise. Some married couples are having their first-born at older ages, and others forego having a child altogether.

The Phetchaburi Family Plan was also been drafted during the event. After the lecture, attendees were divided into groups to help draft a working family plan that can be applied in their community.

BANGKOK, 30 June 2015 -The Royal Thai Police have insisted that Thailand’s system of passport checks is in line with the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

BANGKOK, 30 June 2015 - The Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) has endorsed a five-point strategy to promote sports in Thailand.

SAT Governor Sakol Wannapong has recently made an official announcement over its plan to develop the sport industry in Thailand.

BANGKOK, 30 June 2015  - Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha will travel to Tokyo on Thursday to attend the seventh Mekong – Japan Summit to enhance bilateral cooperation in various areas.

Foreign Minister General Thanasak Patimaprakorn said the Prime Minister will attend this event, along with leaders from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Japan.

The objective of this event is to promote cultural, economic and social cooperation, as well as to reduce social gaps.

General Thanasak added that discussions over water management and other related issues will also be held during the two-day event.

General Prayut will meet with the 125th Japanese Emperor Akihito before joining the discussion with his Japanese counterpart Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The two premiers will discuss the possibility of furthering bilateral ties between Thailand and Japan regarding railway development and agricultural exports.

The Foreign Minister will also meet his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida, as well as Japanese businessmen to broker joint investments.

BANGKOK, 30 June 2015 - The Meteorological Department has predicted a greater amount of rain in the East and South of Thailand toward the end of this week.

According to the weather report, the southwesterly wind over the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand is gaining strength. It will bring more precipitation to the East coast and the upper part of the southern region.

However, the amount of rain will be lower in the upper part of the country. Fishermen should proceed with caution when leaving the shore.

BANGKOK, 30 June 2015 - The Airports of Thailand (AOT) is pushing ahead with the Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang expansion plan in a bid to increase the capacity of airport terminals.

The AOT is revising the major expansion plan with a budget of 140 billion baht. The construction on both airports is expected to be completed in 2021. After the expansion, the two airports will be able to handle up to 120 million passengers a year.

(Environmental Health Impact Assessment: EHIA).

According to the AOT, Phase 2 of the Suvarnabhumi expansion plan has been approved by the cabinet, with a budget of 55 billion baht. The plan to construct a third runway is undergoing an Environmental Health Impact Assessment( EHIA), and would involve payouts to nearby communities for the increase in noise pollution.

For Don Muang, the AOT has plans to build a new concourse and renovate Terminal 1 and 2. The Terminal 2 is set to be re-opened in September. The Red Line’s electric train will also be connected to Don Muang airport’s Terminal 1.

BANGKOK, 30 June 2015 - According to the Thai Chamber of Commerce, business operators across the country believe the hike in daily labour minimum wage should be delayed.

In March, the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee called for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to increase the minimum wage to 360 baht from the current 300 baht, sparking debates in many industries.

The TCC has recently conducted a survey on 218 business owners in the kingdom and found that the majority of them agreed that now is not the right time to increase the daily wage, due to a slow recovery of the Thai economy.

36.5 % of those surveyed expressed their belief that the old system under which wages vary by each province based on the cost of living should be reinstated. Most said that the appropriate daily minimum wage should be set at 293.45 baht.

Business operators are of opinion that the daily minimum wage hike will severely affect their businesses by raising the capital cost and forcing them to initiate layoffs to offset the losses.

According to the TCC, the current daily wage of 300 baht should be kept and that the rate should also be set according to the location, business type and level of labour skill.

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