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Covid-19 crisis delays Thailand’s biofuel future

Sean Kelly

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Covid-19 crisis delays Thailand’s biofuel future | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nikkei Asian Review
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Thailand’s Energy Ministry has postponed a nationwide plan to switch to biofuels until the Covid 19 crisis subsides.

The ministry initially told oil refineries to stop producing gasohol 91 at the end of May and planned to increase consumption and manufacture of biofuels like gasohol E20, which will generate income for local farmers who grow biofuel energy crops like sugarcane and cassava, and ensure the Kingdom is less dependant on OPEC and fossil fuels.

Plans to make the switch are now delayed because the country currently needs the ethanol to produce 70% alcohol for sanitation washes and industrial uses during the crisis. The minister said “ethanol manufacturers have increased their production capacity roughly 90% from their current 60 to 70%, allowing for an excess of more than a million liters of ethanol.

“We believe farmers growing sugarcane and cassava are also benefiting from the rise in demand and price.”

The minister said it would be better if the ethanol is used for producing gasohol E20, because the demand will rise up to 2 million litres daily and more entrepreneurs will consider opening ethanol production plants.

“We have learned that ethanol producers have asked to boost their production capacity by another 500,000 litres per day. About 26 ethanol plants are able to produce 6.275 million litres a day. From this, 4.763 million litres can be used to make gasohol and the rest can produce 70% alcohol.

Fears of crop dependence or drought damaging production were alleviated by Biodiesel producer BBGI’s president who said people can still use gasohol 95 instead of gasohol 91.

“If there is not enough ethanol, the mixing ratio can be changed to suit the situation.”

PTT Oil and Retail says the petrochemical company is working on improving the specifications of gasohol E20 to meet the standards set by the Energy Ministry.

“We are also preparing to boost awareness among consumers about the benefits and differences between gasohol 95 and gasohol E20. Is better because of higher octane burns cleaner.”

SOURCE: The Nation Thailand

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Phuket

Thailand’s Social Security Office forced to explain investment in Sri Panwa Phuket Resort trust fund

Maya Taylor

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Thailand’s Social Security Office forced to explain investment in Sri Panwa Phuket Resort trust fund | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sri Panwa Phuket Resort - Sri Panwa Phuket

The Social Security Office, a department under the direction of Thailand’s Ministry of Labour, is being asked to explain its investment in the trust fund of Phuket’s Sri Panwa Phuket Resort. The demand comes as members of the opposition and political activists call for an investigation into the property’s land rights. The owner of Sri Panwa Phuket, Vorasit Issara, has been condemned online recently, with his property attracting multiple negative reviews, after he criticised anti-government protest leader, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul.

Thai PBS World reports that the Civil Society for State Welfare is calling on the SSO to clarify its investment in the Sri Panwa Hospitality Real Estate Investment Trust, thought to be worth around 500 million baht. Nimit Thian-udom says that, while the SSO’s investment does not break any laws, the board must explain the reasons behind the investment decision and clarify the return on that investment. In addition, he says the SSO should attach more importance to good governance when choosing where to invest.

The call for clarity is echoed by opposition MP Chirayu Huangsap, from the Pheu Thai Party, who calls on the Labour Minister to explain the investment. He adds that any discrepancies will be reported to both the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission.

The land rights of the luxury Sri Panwa Phuket resort, which sits on prime land atop Phuket’s Cape Panwa, overlooking the south-eastern tip of the island, are also being called into question. Veera Somkwamkid, from the People’s Network Against Corruption, says he is looking into the property’s land rights and will pass his findings to the Department of Special Investigations.

For his part, the Labour Minister, Somsak Thepsuthin, says he doesn’t know if the property has been legally built, saying it’s up to the DSI to investigate and that a complaint does not need to be filed in order for them to do so.

Meanwhile, review site Tripadvisor has had to suspend reviews for the Sri Panwa resort, as anti-government netizens exact their revenge on the proprietor by posting negative feedback on the property.

“Due to a recent event that has attracted media attention and has caused an influx of review submissions that do not describe a first-hand experience, we have temporarily suspended publishing new reviews for this listing.”

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Business

Struggling airlines to get reprieve through small loans, extension to fuel tax cut

Maya Taylor

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Struggling airlines to get reprieve through small loans, extension to fuel tax cut | The Thaiger
PHOTO: TAT News

Airlines in Thailand are being offered a financial lifeline, as the Government Savings Bank announces soft loans for carriers left struggling as a result of the current Covid-19 ‘disruption’. Nation Thailand reports that the GSB is offering the loans over a 60 month period, with an annual interest rate of 2%. Chairman Patchara Anuntasilpa says the proposal will shortly be put to Cabinet for approval.

Airlines have been left financially devastated by the fallout from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, with countries closing their borders, passenger numbers plummeting, and carriers forced to slash the number of flights on offer. The services available, including the food services, were also curtailed early on as a preventative measure but that restriction has since been lifted. The effect is being keenly felt by all the airlines in Thailand, with the Kingdom’s borders closed to nearly all international traffic since March.

In a further effort to ease the financial crisis faced by Thai airlines, the Excise Department says it will extend the fuel tax cut for low-cost carriers by another 6 months from the end of this month. Patchara, who also serves as director-general of the Excise Department, says the tax may end up being abolished completely. In normal times, taxation on aviation fuel generates around 1 billion baht a year.

Air Asia has also cut some of its ground costs by using airport buses to ferry passengers from a cheaper aircraft parking area, back to the terminals, foregoing the costs of the airport airbridges. Flights from Phuket to Don Mueang, for example, are now a full ‘bus’ service, sometimes adding an additional 15 minutes at either end for the loading up of the buses and the trip to the planes or the terminal.

It’s understood the excise tax collected since October 2019 totals 503 billion baht, down more than 6.5% on last year’s figure. Most of the income comes from oil or oil products, cars, alcohol, and cigarettes.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Bangkok

First airplane food cafe, now Thai Airways opens fried dough stand

Caitlin Ashworth

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First airplane food cafe, now Thai Airways opens fried dough stand | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Airways

Since not much is happening in the air, Thai Airways is running new business schemes on the ground. For their newest venture, the company opened a deep fried dough street food stand. They say the fried dough with taro custard is an “award winning” recipe.

Thai Airways has already opened a pop-up restaurant serving “in flight” food to customers seated in repurposed airplane seats. They also started offering package deals for a lessons on their flight stimulator, touting that it’s the most realistic stimulator in Thailand and is usually used to train pilots.

For their new fried dough stand outside of the company’s Bangkok headquarters, the new business venture has already “taken off.” Nation Thailand says a long line of people waiting for the 50 baht fried dough early Wednesday morning.

The stand is up from 6:30am to 9:30am in front of their headquarters on Silom Road.

Hopefully they’ll make a profit out of the fried dough with taro custard as they currently owe around 245 billion baht (give or take a few billion), according to Reuters. So 245 billion baht, divided by 50 baht, minus the costs of the taro and dough… they will have to sell a LOT.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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