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YALA, 16 February 2015 - Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) Region 4 has reinforced security in 7 major locations in Thailand’s Deep South ahead of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

A check point has been set up in Yala with 6 soldiers checking every passing vehicle and individual entering Muang district from Yupo road.

The tighter security is aimed at preventing possible attacks on innocent lives from February 16th- 25th when Chinese descendants in the restive South are celebrating the special occasion.

ISOC Region 4 has instructed officers involved to keep their eyes on any insurgent movements and conduct a home search when deemed necessary.

The militants have reportedly been instigating violence continuously in the restive South. Reports have also revealed that they are planning to carry out more attacks in the future.

BANGKOK, 16 Feb 2015, Deputy Prime Minister Wisanu Kruangam on Saturday presided over the launch of the government’s one-stop service center at Central World in Ratchaprasong District of Bangkok.

According to the Deputy Minister, contacting government agencies is part of the life of all Thai citizens, given there are over 800 legal documents that a citizen may under the current law have to deal with at some point in time; for example, when filing petitions, getting marriage certificates, and many others.

Failure to obtain some of those documents is punishable by law, and some procedures are so complicated that they have often led to bribery. In some case, complex procedures have driven away would-be investors to the neighboring countries, causing loss of opportunity to the nation, said the Deputy Prime Minister.

The center is to handle most of the legal document works. It will be open daily from 11 am to 7 pm, said the Deputy Prime Minister. In addition to opening the service centers at department stores owned by Central Group, the administration plans to open these centers at 7-Eleven stores nationwide as well.

As Saturday was the day of love, Valentine's, the Minister also witnessed the marriage registrations of 3 couples at the newly opened center.

BANGKOK, 16 Feb 2015, The Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) has suggested that Thai businesses focus on the elderly in Japan, saying the group has enormous spending power and demands for various products are rising.

According to DITP Director-General Nantawan Sakuntanak, the recent survey shows that this group tends to spend their retirement and money on traveling, relaxation & recreation activities the most; followed by hobbies, food and preserved food for future consumption. They also spend their money on real estates, home decoration, outfits, and cosmetic as well as health products.

She further explained that the group had both time and resources. They funds is usually derived from their investments of their pension, which generates more income for retirement spending, Ms. Nantawan said.

The DITP office in Osaka has, however, warned Thai entrepreneurs to ensure that their products are of top-of-the-line quality, as Japanese customers value quality first before price.

SUPHANBURI, 16 Feb 2015, Suphanburi Province yesterday held a seminar for its administrative staff, raising an awareness of the arrival of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) due at the end of this year.

During the seminar, the province administrative office highlighted the importance of making connectivity in terms of infrastructure, transportation, energy cooperation, and economy. It also emphasized the public level cooperation, prospects of various Memorandum of Understanding on free labor movement, and visa exemption for member countries.

The event also discussed the effects of those issues on people from ASEAN nations' as well as those from third-party countries.

Suphanburi Provincial Administration has planned to improve the quality of its personnel in order to become part of the nation’s competent forces in her efforts to stay competitive when the time comes.

SONGKHLA, 16 February 2015 - At the conference hall of Maha Vajiravudh School in Muang District, Songkhla Province, 21 people who have been selected for the “White Pigeons of the Southern Border” Award for 2014 received their certificates and plaques of honor from the royal representative of Her Royal Highness Princess Soamsawali.

The award has been established by the Association for Peace in the Southern Border Provinces, to commemorate the International Day of Peace observed annually by the United Nations on 21 September. The award is given to those who have acted to promote sustainable peace or motivate people to become interested in setting peace as a priority for sustainable development.

Among the latest winners of the award are Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Mr. Prasith Meksuwan, Prof. Dr.Amra Pongsapitch, Mr. Waeduramae Mimingji and the Southern Border Situation Surveillance Center. On this occasion, Songkhla governor Thamrong Charoenkul, Royal Representative, also presented plaques of honor to 15 other people who have supported the organizing of the event. The ceremony was also accompanied by an exhibition of contemporary art supported by the South Free Art group and artists in the southern border provinces.

BANGKOK, 14 Feb 2015, The Secretary-General of the Finance Ministry Rangsan Sriworasart yesterday expressed his confidence that the Kingdom would be able to achieve a 4% economic growth as targeted.

Mr. Rangsan based his claim on the Government’s stricter tax collection policy, new investment stimulus package, and the soon-to-be-discussed new law on taxing land holdings and buildings, as the main driving forces.

He said even though legal entity tax revenue may be lower than expected, the Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue makes up for the shortfall. The rising VAT income indicates an increase in public spending.

Secretary-General Rangsan explained that the Government decided to lower the legal entity tax rate to attract more investments. These investments include the heavily promoted special economic zones being developed in various border provinces.

Furthermore, he said his ministry would push for tax structure reform, in order to modernize obsolete laws. This includes collecting tax on land and buildings, an inheritance tax, as well as excise and customs taxes.

BANGKOK, 14 Feb 2015, France has expressed interest in investing in Thailand’s dual track railway projects. The revelation was made yesterday during a meeting between Deputy Prime Minister M.R. Prediyathon Tevakul and the French Ambassador to Thailand Thierry Viteau.

Deputy Prime Minister Prediyathon however told the Ambassador that Thailand has to give priority to China and Japan, as the two nations had discussed their involvement from the project’s inception. He thus urged the French Government to instead join the bidding for the contract to operate the electric trains. M.R. Prediyathon said there would be several such contracts offered at auction later this year.

The French Ambassador also confirmed that France's Total S.A. would join the bidding for the 21st petroleum concession, bringing to thirteen the number of companies in this auction. The total number will be revealed on February 18th, the final day for applying for the concession auction. The Deputy Prime Minister said Total S.A. had earlier joined petroleum concession bidding but did not reach any deal.

To allay concerns by several parties regarding the possible embrace of nuclear power by Thailand, M.R. Prediyathon firmly told the media that he has made it clear to the French Government that the Kingdom does not have an interest in establishing a nuclear power plant, citing the lessons learned from Japan’s disasters.

France is one of a few nations with expertise in nuclear energy. It hosts the biggest number of nuclear power plants in the world.

BANGKOK, 13 February 2015 - The Ministry of Public Health has issued new laws regulating the production and distribution of Thai herbal medicines in a latest move to prevent further thefts of local wisdom.

AYUTTHAYA, 13 Feb 2015 - Ayutthaya province has injected a budget of more than 30 million baht into a campaign aimed at helping local people survive the drought crisis.

According to Ayutthaya provincial governor Apichart Todilokvej, the budget will mainly be used for the zoning of water management, job creation, and water-economizing agriculture.

Mr. Apichart said the biggest challenge for the province was the need to supply enough water to all affected people. Another challenge is the provision of water for farming.

The governor attributed the drought crisis to farmers’ refusal to heed the Royal Irrigation Department’s ban on off-season rice cultivation during the dry season. Off-season farming in Ayutthaya, which covered 500,000 rai, reportedly caused damage to 100,000 rai of farming areas.

The drought has hit many districts, particularly Ban Phraek district where the Lopburi River has begun drying up. Villagers have been told to brace themselves for a more severe crisis in March and April by preparing clean containers to collect water from the local waterworks units.

BANGKOK, 13 February 2015 - Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha assigned the Energy Ministry to open a talk with former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva after the latter and some civil groups have signed a petition showing disagreement to the 21st petroleum bidding round.

The PM said that the talk would be a stage for the ministry and Mr.Abhisit to discuss the difference in viewpoints on the basis of facts and figures in order to raise mutual understanding and final solutions. Gen Prayut also asked media members to observe the talk.

He reiterated that the bidding is needed as next year some neighboring countries would export less natural gas to Thailand and keep more for their own domestic demand. Thus the imported gas would be more expensive than those from domestic supply. If Thailand must encounter a shortage of energy in the future due to the cancellation of the 21st bidding now, this would cause burdens to the ruling government at that time.

He insisted that the 21st petroleum bidding round would occur on Feb 18 as planned but some contracts and conditions might be changed.

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