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BANGKOK, 26 June 2015 - Thailand’s export revenue in May 2015 shrank by 5.01% to US$18,429m., the fifth consecutive month of negative growth since January, according to Director-General of the Office of Trade Policy and Strategy Somkiat Trairatpan.

The contraction puts the five-month export revenue to total US$88,694m., a shrink of 4.2%. Mr. Somkiat said a similar trend developed in various countries including Australia, France, Japan and the U.S. due to the uncertainty of global economy.

The causes of the decrease in export revenue are the ongoing low oil price which fell 39.7% in May, resulting in lower earnings from oil-related products. Sale of agricultural and agro-industrial products such as canned tuna and sugar also fell. Rubber exports dropped 14.4%.

Likewise, import value in the month decreased by 19.97% to US$16,012m. The country still recorded a trade suplus of US$2,417m. in the first five months of this year.

Despite the gloomy world economic condition, the Commerce Ministry said it would maintain the export growth target of 1.2%. It was confident that the US and Indochina markets would improve in the second half of 2015. Besides, Thailand still maintains its shares in regular markets like the U.S., China, Japan, India, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan.

The director-general admitted that the drought disaster in Thailand would possibly send negative effects to Thai exports next year due to lower agricultural produce throughout 2015.

Saturday, 27 June 2015 15:09

Police urged to overhaul train safety

BANGKOK, 26 June 2015 – In a new move to regain public trust, Central Investigation Bureau Commander Police Lieutenant General Thitirat Nongharnpitak has urged railway police to step up their efforts to improve the safety of passengers.

During his visit to Railway Police Division, Police Lieutenant General Thitirat instructed railway police to compile statistics of criminal acts that occurred on trains and at train stations in order to map out efficient crime prevention and suppression plans for passengers.

Though admitting that the Division is faced with lack of budget and personnel, Police Lieutenant General Thitirat called on the police to do their best as they are responsible for the lives of the passengers. The number of railway police currently stands at 681.

Railway police have also been told to be prepared for the emergence of ASEAN Economic Community in 2016, after which time they will have to deal with a much larger number of tourists and foreign workers.

BANGKOK, 26 June 2015 - The first meeting of the National Committee on Climate Change (NCCC) is drawing up Thailand’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) with a goal to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emission by 7-20 per cent within 2020.

Permanent Secretary of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry Kasemsun Chinnavaso revealed after attending the meeting that the country’s intention would be proposed to the High-Level Event on Climate Change to be held at United Nations headquarters in New York, the U.S. on June 29th.

According to him, Thailand has already achieved a 12% reduction in the gas emission though it is not on the list of countries with urgent reduction of greenhouse gases in energy and transportation sectors.

He continued to say that the intention has prompted Thailand to adjust its Power Development Plan (PDP) and power consumption in the industrial, agricultural and forestry sectors. The country plans to reduce the gas emission by at least 12%-29% by 2030.

The meeting in New York is expected to conclude a new agreement for each member state to achieve the 7-20% greenhouse gas reduction by the end of 2020 ahead of a bigger meeting on "the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21)” which will take place from November 30th - December 11th in Paris, France.

The Thai ambassador and Permanent Representative of Thailand to the United Nations in New York has already been designated to represent the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment at the COP-21 meeting.

BANGKOK, 26 June 2015 – The government is set to hold the healthy city and community lifestyle event at Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem Canal next to the government house during 7-26 July 2015.

The Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem Market Committee’s meeting chaired by the Deputy Secretary-General to the Prime Minister for Political Affairs Renu Tunkachivangoon yesterday gave the green light toi the healthy city and community lifestyle event from 7-26 July 2015.

The event will be held by the Department for Development of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine in cooperation with the Secretariat of the Prime Minister. The event will take place at Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem Canal next to the government house.The event will be placed on the same location as the Flowers and Ornamental Plants and Fish Festival.

The healthy city and community lifestyle event is aiming to raise the community's confidence in services of healthcare institutes in Thailand, and to increase the economic value of Thai and integrative medicine.

The Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha will preside over the opening ceremony of this event on 7 July 2015 at 4:50pm.

The event will feature Thai and integrative medicine services that will be demonstration in two categories zones, such as the Thai massage zone, clinic zone, healthy products zone, and the canal market zone featuring healthy and delicious food on sale from the Department of Health and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.

Exhibitions on the traditional knowledge of Thai and integrative medicine will also be set up to spread valuable information to all attenddees attending this event.

BANGKOK, 26 June 2015 – Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has organized an academic seminar on the integration of canal to rail transportation networks in Bangkok.

The Deputy Governor of Bangkok Amorn Kitchawengkul presided over the academic seminar ‘Hybrid Canal-Rail Connectivity : Linking Bangkok’s Canals Networks to Mass Rapid Transit Lines’ held by the Faculty of Architecture and Planning, Thammasat University and the Rockefeller Foundation, Thailand to publicize research findings.

Bangkok's Deputy Governor said that this research reveals corresponding information with the BMA’s bus, rail, and boat transport integration project that was initiated by the Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra.

The BMA has decided to use Phetchaburi Road, Ramkhamhaeng Road, and Phasi Charoen Canal as the location of the integrated transport project to help improve public's daily commute. The BMA’s project has shown a significant improvement to the commute from Phetkasem Road to Taksin Bridge, where the time required to travel was reduced to 35-40 minutes after canal boat commuters can catch the train at Bang Wa station. The same distance by road would consume up to one and a half hours on road.

The Bangkok Deputy Governor also mentioned that the Bangkok’s transportation integration plan was pursuing the same direction as the studies by Thammasat University.

BANGKOK, 26 June 2015 – The Commerce Ministry plans the fourth auction of 1.39 million tonnes of both fragrant and white rice in different grades kept in the government stockpiles nationwide, Banjongjit Angsusingh, deputy director-general of the Foreign Trade Department said on Friday.

The grains are from 156 government stockpiles, 107 warehouses under the Public Warehouse Organization and 49 Marketing Organization for Farmers warehouses in 32 provinces across Thailand.

There are fourteen types of rice to be sold this time and 56,000 tonnes of the amount are White Rice 5% and Jasmine Rice 100%.

Banjongjit was confident the fourth auction could draw greater attention from private bidders as the ministry was successful in the latest auction in which 70% of stockpiled rice was sold.

She believed “demand in the rice markets remains high. So the auction comes at the right time and it seems to have no negative impact on the whole rice market”.

BANGKOK, 26 June 2015 – The committee in charge of the annual budget scrutiny has begun its deliberation of next year’s budgets for different ministries.

The annual budget scrutinizing committee decided to cut 423 million baht from the budgets for Ministries of Finance, Information and Communication Technology, Commerce, Agriculture and Cooperatives as well as Natural Resources and Environment. The five ministries requested budgets of 715 billion baht, out of the 2.7 trillion baht allocation.

Spokesman of the annual budget scrutinizing committee Chatudom Dittasiri revealed that the committee members rejected financial requests for procurement and maintenance of durable goods, new constructions and state property as the remaining budgets should be enough for these purposes.

Aside from the budget cuts, the committee has advised the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to closely monitor its assistance projects for drought-hit areas since the implementation was prone to corruption.

Deliberation of the 2016 budgets was three days behind the schedule.

BANGKOK, 26 June 2015  – The Finance Ministry is to issue a series of measures to cope with drought effects in the agricultural sector within a month.

Finance Minister Sommai Phasee said Deputy Prime Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula would soon hold a meeting with relevant authorities to draw up clear-cut measures to relieve impacts of droughts and assist farmers in drought-hit areas.

He confirmed the Finance Ministry has sufficient budget to help farmers. The Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives is now working on soft loans with low-interest rate, and an extension of debt repayment periods for farmers.

Sommai also called for farmers’ understanding in the difficulty encountered by the government in dealing with droughts. Moreover, he said Thailand was facing a contraction in export growth which could derail the country’s economic growth target this year.

The minister added such an economic slowdown also developed in various countries worldwide. European economy, in particular, showed very clear contraction of economic growth as seen in the fall of their exports and imports.

BANGKOK, 26 June 2015 – The government has urged all agencies to brace for both drought and flood situations due to an expected monsoon, while authorities are gearing up groundwater well drillings to aid drought stricken farmers.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental (MNRE) Secretary-General Kasemsun Chinnavaso, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Gen Prawit Wongsuwan has expressed his concern regarding the nation's climate change situation in wake of the low precipitation, while a big monsoon is expected to blow over Thailand in a few days.

He has said that rain from the monsoon could help fill up reservoirs and dams which would reduce the severity of the drought. Despite the need for precipitation, more rain could also lead to floods in many areas. Related agencies have been ordered to prepare for both scenarios and prepare accordingly.

On the relief operations for the drought and water shortages in the Chao Phraya River basin, the Department of Groundwater Resources has dispatched a team of officials to drill 500 additional groundwater wells and to perform maintenance checks on the existing wells to help farmers, especially now that rice crops are dying from the lack of water.

The MNRE Secretary-General has cited the MNRE Minister Gen Dapong Ratanasuwan’s order to the Department of Groundwater Resources to survey existing groundwater wells for their safe yield capacity.

Water from wells with a capacity level below the safe yield can be used for consumption, while new wells will be drilled near the existing water supply infrastructures to reduce the cost of the new supply system's construction. The new drilling system is capable of drilling to a depth of 1 kilometers, while the traditional method can only drill 200 meters in depth.

Saturday, 27 June 2015 15:03

Passenger traffic at Don Mueang soars

BANGKOK, 26 June 2015 - Don Mueang airport posted a 42.2% leap in passenger traffic, exceeding Southeast Asia's average growth rate of 9.3%, according to a report released by the Airports Council International (ACI).

The increase was attributed to higher traffic during the holiday period.

The Bangok airport welcomed 2.51 million passengers in April 2015, up from 1.76 million year-on-year.

In addition, the ACI reported that a few major reports in Asia recorded almost 20% year-on-year growth. They included Pudong in Shang Hai and Incheon in South Korea.

However, the ACI said air freight in the region saw only 2.6% growth.

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