BANGKOK, 26 March 2015 - The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) has revealed that 28 provinces are currently affected by the drought crisis.

According to DDOM Director General Chatchai Promlert, more than 7,000 villages in 28 provinces across Thailand have been facing water shortage problems since October last year.

The DDPM has sought relief efforts from the army and related agencies. Water trucks have been delivering water for consumption and farming to affected communities, and machinery has also been provided to help ease the drought crisis.

A plane has been sent to spray water in the forest areas in Chiang Mai and its surrounding provinces to improve the visibility in the sky. The operation is expected to continue until the end of this month.

Mr. Chatchai has advised farmers to grow drought-tolerant crops instead of rice. The DDPM is also seeking new sources of ground water to assure the sustainability of water supply for household consumption for locals.

BANGKOK, 26 March 2015 - 17 cab drivers were penalized on the first day of the government's drive to 're-organize' the taxi service in Bangkok.

Department of Land Transport Deputy Director-General Chirute Visalachitra inspected the work of officials in front of Siam Paragon Department store on Wednesday, after which he disclosed that checks on taxi drivers had been carried out at four spots within Bangkok's Ratchaprasong area, namely MBK, Siam Paragon, Central World and Platinum department stores.

Ten of the 17 offending taxi drivers were fined for turning down passengers, four for not turning on the meter, two for being improperly dressed, and one for failing to pay for the annual car tax.

According to Mr. Chirute, cab drivers who are first-time offenders would be fined no more than 1,000 baht and must undergo training arranged to improve service-mindedness. Second-time offenders would have their licenses suspended for 30 days and must undergo another training. Third-time offenders would have their licenses suspended for six months and must undergo yet another training. Any driver who commits three offenses within one month will have their license revoked.

Passengers may download the "DLT Check in" application for mobile devices to rate each taxi driver's quality of service and to give their feedback for the service. The information will be sent directly to the Department of Land Transport's database so improvement to service can be made and offenders can be penalized.

BANGKOK, 26 March 2015 - Authorities in various provinces continued to carry out drought mitigation work on Wednesday. Meanwhile, storms have caused extensive damage to mango grown for export in Phichit province.

Almost 10,000 rai of mango plantations in Wang Thap Sai Sub-district, Sak Lek district, Phichit have been pummeled by heavy rain, gusty winds and hail caused by the tropical storm prevailing over Thailand. Losses totaling about 100 million baht have been reported, after the mangoes became blemished as well as severely damaged.

Meanwhile, provincial authorities in Phrae have been pumping water into the local irrigation system. A total of 20 mobile water pumps have been recently deployed at five spots to pump water into the irrigation system that feeds all eight districts in the province. The effort is expected to alleviate the effect of the drought on no less than 22,000 rai of farmland.

Pichet Durongkaveroj ( พิเชฐ ดุรงคเวโรจน์ ) , Minister of Science and Technology, revealed on Wednesday that the ministry was developing water filters that employ nanotechnology, as well as water filtration machines that can convert salt water into drinking water. According to the minister, these technologies are being developed to help mitigate the effects of the drought.

BANGKOK, 26 March 2015 - The government is not looking to stop allocating lottery tickets to handicapped lottery vendors even though it was looking to allot some tickets to convenience stores in order to keep the selling price at 80 baht, according to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

General Prayut said on Wednesday the government was not discontinuing allotment of tickets to handicapped vendors, but was re-distributing the allocation quotas – currently provided to large vendors – so that smaller sellers and convenience stores would also get lottery tickets to sell. The prime minister reasoned that providing buyers with alternatives would also ensure that the tickets would be sold at 80 baht, making it more likely that all tickets would be sold out, even ones with undesirable numbers.

Gen. Prayut said the selling price in Bangkok and in the provinces should be only slightly different. He added that online sale of lotteries would take place in the future.

Thursday, 26 March 2015 11:39

Samut Sakhon to hold its first Kaset Fair

SAMUT SAKHON, 26 Mar 2015, Samut Sakhon Province is holding its first ‘Samut Sakhon Kaset Fair’, which will be officially launched on April 1st and conclude on April 5th. The event offers quality agricultural products ranging from fresh vegetables to meat, poultry, fish, and OTOP handicrafts.

Samut Sakhon Governor Police Lieutenant Athit Boonyasopat yesterday led a press conference in Muang District which was also joined by his deputy Winit Piyamethang, and heads of the provincial Livestock Office, and the Tourism & Sport Office.

The fair is being divided into zones, such as maritime, livestock, vegetables, orchids, OTOPs, canteen, and exhibition zones.

The governor said the fair would be open on April 1st at 6p.m. He invited all to visit the event, saying that participants would have a chance to get their hands on the province’s famous products, such as fragrant coconut, mangoes, and longan. He stressed that not only the event-goers would be able to purchase goods at a discount, they would also help boost income of local agricultural operators in the province.

BANGKOK, 26 March 2015 - The Thai and Cambodian Ministries of Commerce have agreed to join forces in driving cooperation in border trade further, aiming to achieve trade growth of 30 percent in five years.

Deputy Commerce Minister of Thailand Apiradee Tantraporn revealed after meeting with her Cambodian counterpart Kem Sithan that the two sides have concurred to further expand their trade cooperation at all levels after last year’s total trade value exceeded 5 billion US dollars. Emphasis will be placed on trade along the shared border which is believed to have the potential to meet the target growth of 30 percent by the year 2020.

The two neighbors also agreed to the joint development of special economic zones, hoping to attract more trade and investment to their countries. Cambodia was reportedly supportive of Thailand’s suggestions for the trade strategy, which will be discussed at the 5th Thai-Cambodian Joint Trade Committee (JTC) Meeting to be hosted by Thailand this year.

In the meantime, Ms Apiradee said the Thai Ministry of Commerce is organizing a border trade fair in collaboration with Cambodia in Aranyaprathet district of the border province of Sa Kaeo from now until March 30.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015 14:57

PM urging public to trust legal system

BANGKOK, 25 March 2015 - Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is urging those opposing the justice system to have faith in it.

According to the Prime Minister, legal cases involving politicians must be handled under the Thai legal procedures. He said many of those lambasting the integrity of the system have violated the law themselves.

He encouraged them to prove their innocence before the court instead of doing so outside the justice system.

On the economic front, the Prime Minister said it would be impossible to restore the Thai economy in a short period of time, and that the government is currently considering both internal and external factors as part of its economic restoration plan. The transportation routes between Thailand and other ASEAN nations will be constructed to increase market channels for Thai products.

General Prayut also urged the media to report the news constructively as it could have much bearing on national security. He said he would ask the Thai Journalist Association to monitor news publications and encourage the media to adhere to media ethics when reporting the news.

BANGKOK, 20 March 2015 - Tourism operators will suggest that the cabinet either shorten or delay the announcement of holidays as the extended holidays have been found to contribute to more Thai people vacationing overseas.

According to the Association of Domestic Travel (ADT), the long holidays which the government earlier announced in the hope of boosting domestic spending have instead led to Thai people planning their trips overseas.

The ADT expected over 500,000 Thais to leave for Japan during the Songkran Festival and the Coronation Day’s long holidays. Each of them will likely spend 50,000 baht for the trip, frittering away 30 billion baht.

The ADT attributed theThais' decision to holiday abroad to the stronger baht and cheaper overseas tour packages. It also forecast that around 6.5 million Thais would vacation overseas this year, spending around 350 billion baht altogether. The number of Thai and foreign holiday makers observing the Songkran festival will likely hit 4.4 million, generating 44 billion baht in circulation.

The ADT also cautioned related sectors to brace themselves for the second half of year, during which time consumers are likely to tighten their belts as they remain skeptical in the economy.

Despite the ADT’s gloomy forecast, the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA) has reported that travel agents’ confidence index during the second quarter has risen to 101, up from 99 reported last year, based on the latest survey.

PHUKET, 25 March 2015 - A 3.8-magnitude earthquake occurred at 5.32 a.m. on Wednesday morning off the east coast of Phuket. The epicenter occurred at a depth of 23 kilometers from the seabed, about 13 kilometers off the costline of Phuket province, according to the Meteorological Department. 

BANGKOK, 25 March 2015 - The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) said yesterday’s flooding in the capital was triggered by off season precipitation.

Permanent Secretary of the BMA Sanya Chinimit claimed that the flood water was not drained from the roads fast enough while many roads stayed inundated for an hour. He said it was common for low lying roads like Asoke, Phetchaburi and Ayutthaya to be submerged after heavy rains.

He admitted the BMA had not earlier released water from some canals to make room for the flood water, but insisted that the underground flood tunnels were still functional.

The Permanent Secretary assured Bangkok residents that the BMA would lower the water in various canals ahead of the rainy season to make sure yesterday’s flood would not recur.

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