BANGKOK, 20 March 2015 - Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan is poised to reiterate to the international community that Thailand has been putting its best efforts into the fight against human trafficking in the fishery sector.

During his visit to the three southernmost provinces, Gen Prawit commented on the incident where 500 Thai fishery workers were stranded on Indonesian islands and victimized by human traffickers, saying he is preparing to travel to Indonesia to partake in a bilateral discussion on the matter. He insisted that help is being coordinated urgently for the group in an attempt to bring them home safely.

In regard to a speculation that the European Union is considering issuing a yellow card against Thailand for its non-compliance with the regulations on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, the Deputy Prime Minister said it is still unknown if the information is true. Nonetheless, he gave assurances that the government has been placing its priority on solving the human trafficking problem in the Thai fishing industry and he is ready to convey the message to the EU.

Gen Prawit, who has been appointed by the Prime Minister as the chairman of the human trafficking prevention committee, elaborated that several measures have already been implemented in accordance with international standards, including registration of fishing vessels, installation of GPS system on board, registration of crew members and verification of each vessel’s information before leaving the shore.

BANGKOK, 20 March 2015 - The Ministry of Interior has instructed the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) to expedite the operational plans to prevent and solve the smog crisis in the North.

Interior Minister General Anupong Paojinda has ordered quick response to the ongoing haze situation in nine northern provinces. The DDPM is expected to work with other relevant units to solve the issue systematically and promptly.

The Minister said local authorities should raise public awareness about the cause and effect of the slash and burn practice. Residents will also be encouraged by the government sector to use a milder approach of clearing lands instead of burning them down. Farming equipment will be made available to help farmers deal with land preparations for a new production season.

BANGKOK, 19 March 2015 - Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister General Thanasak Patimaprakorn is scheduled to visit Vietnam between March 19 and 20 to participate in the Thailand-Vietnam Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) meeting in Hanoi.

General Thanasak will co-chair the Thailand-Vietnam Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) meeting with Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh, during which the two sides will discuss the progress of cooperation in several areas and the possibility of enhancing collaboration in the fields of politics, security, society and economy.

Thailand and Vietnam officially established diplomatic ties in 1976 and have since continued to strengthen and expand their relations, as witnessed by regular bilateral meetings and mutual visits between Thai and Vietnamese high-ranking officials.

In terms of economy, Thailand is Vietnam’s biggest trading partner in ASEAN. Trade between the two countries last year was worth 1.1 billion US dollars. As for tourism, the number of Vietnamese tourists arriving in Thailand reportedly surpassed 550,000 last year

BANGKOK, 19 March 2015 - The Traffic Police is gearing up for the Red Cross Fair 2015 which will begin at the end of this month.

Traffic Police Deputy Commander Police Colonel Phusit Visetkamin has disclosed that Ratchadamnoen Nok and Si Ayutthaya roads will be closed to traffic from March 30th – April 7th due to the fair.

The road closures will begin from 14.00 – 23.00 hrs during weekdays and from 10.00-23.00 hrs on the weekend. The venue of the fair covers the areas and roads around the equestrian statue of King Chulalongkorn, Miksakawan intersection and Benjamabopit Temple.

100 traffic police officers will be deployed to relieve traffic congestion each day. The venue will be off limit to street hawkers and illegal parking. Visitors are advised to travel by public transportation.

BANGKOK, 19 March 2015 - The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is ready to open an exhibition on the National Water Conservation Week and World Water Day this weekend, with an emphasis to be placed on the tackling of drought problems.

Ahead of the annual observance of World Water Day, which falls on March 22 of every year, Director-General of the DWR Jatuporn Burutpat stated that the water strategic committee chaired by Commerce Minister Gen Chatchai Sarikalya has assigned all water-related agencies to integrate their efforts to draw up a strategy that can tackle problems in upstream, midstream and downstream areas while sending out teams to collect data from each locality.

Given the severe drought situation this year, which has forced up to 27 provinces to be declared disaster zones, Mr Jatuporn said the goals which the government is trying to achieve first and foremost are to ensure sustainable supply of water for consumption and to reduce the number of drought-affected zones in the country, with public involvement to be highlighted. Rehabilitation of forest areas, meanwhile, has been included in a ten-year plan.

Details on the government’s projects concerning water will be featured in the National Water Conservation Week and World Water Day exhibition, which is scheduled to take place at the Royal Paragon Hall at Siam Paragon Shopping Center on March 22 and 23. International organizations, specialists and foreign diplomats are also invited to the event.

BANGKOK, 19 March 2015 -Thailand and New Zealand have agreed to double their bilateral trade volume in 5 years.

The cooperation was highlighted at the meeting between Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister General Tanasak Patimapragorn and newly-appointed New Zealand ambassador to Thailand Reuben Levermore. The envoy paid a courtesy call on Gen. Tanasak on the occasion of his assumption of the post.

At the discussion, both sides agreed to push for greater cooperation under the existing framework of ‘Thailand-New Zealand Closer Economic Partnership’ agreement which was inked in 2005. The two countries on this occasion set an aim to double bilateral trade value by 2020.

General Tanasak also told the New Zealand ambassador Thailand’s readiness to support the latter in holding activities to celebrate the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries next year.

In other cooperation areas, Thailand will co host a ‘Senior Officials’ Talk’ with New Zealand in June while General Tanasak will be attending the ‘Thailand-New Zealand joint Commission Meeting’ in New Zealand.

Thursday, 19 March 2015 12:38

Hua Hin undergoes beach facelift

PRACHUAP KHIRI KHAN, 19 March 2015 - Prachuap Khiri Khan province has cleared up its Hua Hin beach as part of its city cleanup campaign. 

BANGKOK, 19 Mar 2015 - The Cabinet has acknowledged the issue of high commodity prices despite the fallen fuel prices. Meanwhile, findings revealed fruits, seafood and ready-made meals being offered in the capital are more expensive than in rural areas.

Government Spokesperson Capt. Dr. Yongyuth Maiyalarp quoted a report from the Ministry of Science and Technology as saying that 52% of Thai households earn just the exact amount to pay their daily bills, only 12.3% are able to make a regular saving, and 35.7% earn less than what they are paying out. He said people in the last group solve their problem by resorting to loans from various financial sources.

The report indicated that 41.3% of people in the Northeast were earning less than their expenditure, the rate higher than other regions.

The Spokesperson said 59.8% of the residents still find that the commodity prices in February remain the same despite the drop in fuel price. The Captain stated that the majority of the people set to become more frugal in dealing with the problem. He also indicated that generally 49.1% of items being offered in Bangkok are more expensive than in other provinces.

Captain Yongyuth said items that people want the government to keep its eyes on are pork, rice, cooking oil, ready-made meals, fertilizer, eggs, and seafood.

TAK, 19 Mar 2015,  The border province of Tak yesterday held the 7th meeting on the progress of the Special Economic Zone establishment, discussing the zone’s location and entrepreneur perks.

The assembly also discussed the obstacles, shared suggestions, and laid out a budget plan for the project.

The province is set to establish an industrial zone in the 23.84 square km of the local forest area. They also plan to build a government complex near the Province’s Ratchapat University.

The province would use the local Mae Sod Hospital as the health center for foreign labors for the time being, saying it may build a center later on.

Tak Provincial Administration Office and the Board of Investment have agreed to provide at least 13 types of benefit for vendors and entrepreneurs operating in the province’s Special Economic Zone. These benefits include tax refund, measures to facilitate monetary transactions and cross-border transportation services.

The Ministry of Transport has initially approved a budget of 500 million baht for the construction of the second Mei River Bridge. A working committee overseeing the project would soon be established, the meeting concluded.

The provincial chamber of commerce also reminded the meeting of the necessity of conducting an environmental impact assessment on the industrial project planned.

CHIANG MAI, 19 March 2015 - The Singaporean air force has dispatched two Chinook helicopters to help Thailand combat the haze blanketing the country's northern region.

The two CH-47 aircraft were dispatched along with 40 personnel and will be working with Thai authorities for two weeks to support anti-forest fire operations in Chiang Mai and other northern provinces. One of the Chinooks will be flying aerial firefighting missions that will involve dropping 5,000 liters of water per trip. The other helicopter will be shuttling firefighters to and from the sites of fire outbreaks. The first mission will be conducted as a response to wildfires that recently erupted to the north of Doi Suthep mountain range in Chiang Mai.

Air Chief Marshal Monthon Sutchukorn, spokesperson of the Royal Thai Air Force, indicated that Singapore's assistance was in accord with ASEAN's framework of humanitarian and disaster mitigation assistance.

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