BANGKOK, 20 May 2015 - The Minister of Justice departed to Vietnam today, to join a meeting on drugs suppression.

The Minister of Justice Gen Paiboon Koomchaya traveled to Vietnam today to participate on a meeting to discuss narcotics suppression efforts. He said that so far, drug suppression operations have shown much progress.

The Justice Minister said that the solution to the narcotics issue will require cooperation with neighbouring countries in the Golden Triangle Group including China, Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand. Wider cooperation will see the inclusion of the Greater Mekong Subregion countries, and the ASEAN member countries. He said global scale operations with the global community will also be necessary.

He said that funding will be required to support the farmers in Laos and Myanmar to stop them from cultivating plants used in drug production.

A long term plan with adequate timing will be required to solve this issue. The demand for narcotics must be reduced in order for the suppression plan to succeed, and a draft for this plan will be required.

SAMUT SONGKHRAM, 29 May 2015 - Samut Songkhram's Provincial Employment Office held a training course for immigrant workers today, to prevent them from becoming human trafficking victims.

The Vice Governor of Samut Songkhram Praphass Malakarn today presided over the opening ceremony of the anti trafficking training course for immigrant workers in Samut Songkhram province. The training course was organized by the Samut Songkhram Provincial Employment Office.

An official from the Provincial Employment Office Ataya Umnongpho delivered a report to the Vice Governor that the project aims to create an understanding of the rights, duties, regulations, customs, and even the local traditions the immigrants in the province should follow, in order to prevent them from becoming human trafficking victims.

She said that the province has faced a shortage of basic labor, especially in the fisheries business. Immigrants from Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia have been traveling to work at Samut Songkhram province. Some of these laborers are unaware of the law, regulations, and their own basic rights. This often leads to illegal employment, deception, and forced labor.

Participants in this training course includes 60 immigrant workers. The number of immigrants working in Samut Songkhram province is at 14,319 persons, 13,272 from Myanmar, 498 from Laos, and 545 from Cambodia.

Labor Minister Surasak Kanjanarat last wee took his time slot to spell out the Ministry of Labor’s policy to the improve well-being of Thai and alien workers during the government’s weekly talk program broadcast on radio and television stations nationwide.

Gen Surasak disclosed that the Ministry of Labor had already set up employment service centers for Thai job seekers in the provinces of Bangkok, Songkla and Nakhon Ratchasima, adding that those in Rayong, Nakhon and Chiang Mai were on the way. The Ministry has also planned to erect similar centers across the country.

Labor Minister Surasak Kanjanarat.

Gen Surasak said employment services offered by the Labor Ministry would also apply to freelance workers and the physically-challenged to ensure access to suitable jobs for people of all groups.

Regarding the issue of foreign workers, the Ministry has decided to revise some regulations to enable entrepreneurs to better cope with the lack of foreign labor in certain sectors. Among its attempts are the documentation of alien workers and the reduction of the returning-home period of Burmese workers having worked in the Kingdom for two years to 30 days instead of three years.

The Ministry is in the process of issuing labor protection laws and is also speeding up plans to improve the safety and social security for workers.

The astrologer predicted during the royal ploughing ceremony on May 13 that there will be more water in Thailand this year.

The forecast was made after the astrologer picked up four pieces of cloth presented to him and studied them. He revealed that farms situated on higher grounds will benefit from a large amount of rain this year.

The Commerce Ministry is planning to keep track of private hospitals fees, in its bid to prevent them from overcharging their foreign patients.

Director General of the Department of Internal Trade Boonyarit Kalayanamit said the measures came after his meeting with the Ministry of Public Health last Friday, following a deluge of complaints about the issue.

Currently, the only existing law related to the problem is the 1999 Consumer Protection Law, which requires business operators to clearly display the prices of their products and services.

Director General of the Department of Internal Trade Boonyarit Kalayanamit.Director General of the Department of Internal Trade Boonyarit Kalayanamit.

Friday’s meeting also agreed on the establishment of a committee setting the median prices of medication. The topic would be brought to the attention of the national drugs council.

Another measure to be put in place is to set the median prices for medical service fees, treating it as a commodity product price control, the director general said, adding that such a policy can be issued under the ministry’s authority.

Both measures are expected to be discussed and concluded within a month’s time.

BANGKOK, 20 May 2015, The Ministry of Commerce has instructed provincial commerce offices nationwide to be on the lookout for agricultural products oversupply problems.

During yesterday's meeting of regional commerce officers, Commerce Minister General Chatchai Sarikalya ordered them to closely monitor the prices and supplies of agricultural products as well as other market movements. The General also instruct the officials to make sure that growers do not harvest their crops prematurely, in order to maintain the quality of the products.

According to the Commerce Minister, the measures are necessary to prevent agricultural product prices from falling too low affecting farmers’ income, while urging officials to quickly lend a hand to farmers facing difficulties.

He also instructed the regional officials to implement the ‘One-Roof’ policy in their respective offices. The scheme integrates public services from provincial government agencies related to internal trading, business development, foreign trading and intellectual property into the provincial commerce office.

General Chatchai said the campaign would simplify, speed up, and improve the services.

BANGKOK, 20 May 2015 - The Ministry of Public Health has entered into a collaboration with the International Organization for Migration in improving the healthcare system for migrants.

Dr. Surachet Satitramai, acting permanent secretary of the public health ministry, and Jeffrey Labovitz, Chief of Mission of the International Office of Migration (IOM) in Thailand have signed a collaboration agreement on the improvement of healthcare for aliens in provinces close to the border. The collaboration will see to the development of a healthcare system for aliens in 31 provinces with large numbers of migrants, such as Tak, Chiang Rai, Ubon Ratchathani, Sa Kaeo and Ranong.

Provincial public health offices and public hospitals have been tasked with providing basic healthcare service for migrants. The service is to cover minor illnesses as well as serious cases, as well as to promote the prevention of contagious diseases. The IOM will, throughout all three years of the collaboration, provide funding to participating hospitals and health offices.

BANGKOK, 20 May 2015 - The Ministry of Commerce is collaborating with grocery and merchandise retailer giant Tesco Lotus in preventing low fruit prices, by having the latter buy fruit directly from farmers' cooperatives for its stores.

Ministry of Commerce deputy permanent secretary Vuthichai Duangratana presided over the opening of the event 'Tesco Lotus returns fresh, sweet happiness via delicious Thai fruit', which was a project under the ministry's scheme to promote the consumption of Thai fruit and OTOP products. The project facilitates linkages between seasonal fruit producers and the market, by having Tesco Lotus buy rambutan, mangosteen, longan, salak and langsat from select cooperatives. Some 10 million kilograms of the fruit will be purchased from the cooperatives to be sold at roughly 1,800 stores operated by Tesco Lotus in Thailand.

Mr. Wutthichai said that this year, the ministries of commerce and agriculture have been implementing a system-wide management of produce since the beginning of the fruiting season, in order for the produce to be released in provinces that do not grow the fruit as well as in neighboring countries.

BANGKOK, 20 May 2015 – Sixty days should be enough time for awareness of the draft charter to be raised in preparing the public for a referendum on the draft, according to National Legislative Assembly (NLA) vice president Surachai Liengboonlertchai.

Mr. Surachai on Tuesday expressed his belief that 60 days of campaigning to create public awareness of the draft would prove sufficient, if a referendum on the charter draft is to be called. He noted, however, that a longer time frame may also be allocated, if the Constitution Drafting Committee deemed it as appropriate for covering the vast amount of details in the draft.

Mr. Surachai also spoke of the deliberation session for the fiscal year 2016 budget bill, which will take place on Thursday (May 21), during which Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will report the details of the budget bill to the National Legislative Assembly. The session will be televised live through the Parliament TV channel and NBT Channel.

BANGKOK, 20 May 2015 - The National Reform Council and the Secretariat of the House of Representatives have presented their donations to help victims of the Nepal quake.

NRC’s 2nd Vice President Tassana Boontong together with her fellow council members presented 1.5 million baht in donations for the Nepal quake victims to Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office M.L.Panadda Diskul, who accepted the sum on behalf of the government.

The Thai government has created the “Hua Jai Thai - Song Pai Nepal “ or “Thai Hearts for Nepal” project to collect donations for the quake-ravaged country.

According to Mrs. Tassana, the NRC has recognised the plights of the people of Nepal and collected donations from all members as well as holding an auction of a painting by Emeritus Prof. Preecha Thaothong, who is also a member of the committee on the reforms of social values, arts, culture, ethics and religion.

Meanwhile, Secretary-General of the House of Representatives Charae Panpruang also presented donations collected from officers, employees and workers of the Secretariat of the House of Representatives, totaling 94,200 baht, to M.L. Panadda.

M.L. Panadda thanked all who had made donations and said that all donated money would be sent to Nepal through the United Nations, the World Health Organisation and UNICEF.

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