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Public concerned with costs of MRT’s Isaan project

Caitlin Ashworth

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Public concerned with costs of MRT’s Isaan project | The Thaiger
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Money is a main concern for businesses and investors involved in a project by the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand to construct an electric light rail train line in the Isaan province Nakhon Ratchasima. Some say MRT should reconsider the type of train planned for the project and go for a more cost efficient option.

Province’s proposed MRT Green Line is planned to stretch 11.5 kilometres with 21 stations. It would be similar to Bangkok’s MRT lines, but smaller. The project is estimated to cost around 7 billion baht. Construction is planned to start in 2022 and will take 4 years to complete. But that’s just the Green Line. The province plans to build 2 other lanes – Purple and Orange. 34 billion baht was budgeted for all 3 projects.

MRT recently held a hearing to gather the public’s thoughts on the Green Line project. More than 600 people attended. A main concern from the public was cost efficiency. Some say a different type of rapid transit system would be more budget friendly.

Local businessman Chaiwat Wongbencharat told MRT representatives that spending 7 billion baht on just 1 train line might not be the best idea. He also says that MRT should reconsider their plans as conventional rail systems are expensive to build and difficult to repurpose.

Chaiwat suggests the MRT use a rubber tyred metro rather than a conventional tram. The chairman of the local Chamber of Commerce, Chatchawal Wongjorn, agrees. He says the MRT would be better off using the rubber tyred metro, adding that it would not only cut costs, but allow the MRT to build all 3 train lines at once.

Chaiwat adds that the rapid transit system would also have safety sensors and systems that are used in major cities.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

Economy

Vietnam’s booming manufacturing sector reduced to a trickle as world pandemic kills demand

The Thaiger

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Vietnam’s booming manufacturing sector reduced to a trickle as world pandemic kills demand | The Thaiger

Vietnamese finance officials are downgrading expectations for a recovery of the south east Asian nation’s economy in 2021. The normally fast-growing gross domestic product in 2020 has stalled due to a huge drop in local and global demand, and the absence of international tourism. The booming economy, growing at an average of 6% per year since 2012, will struggle to reach a growth rate of 2% this year.

Fuelled by manufactured exports, the Vietnam economy has dropped back to a trickle. The Asian Development Bank estimates that this year’s GDP growth could be as low as 1.8%. The Vietnamese factories, that usually crank out shoes, garments, furniture and cheap electronics, are seeing dropping demand as the world’s consumer confidence drops dramatically.

Stay-at-home rules in Europe and America are keeping are keeping people away from retail stores. And despite the acceleration of online retail, many of the consumers are emerging from the Covid Spring and Summer with vastly reduced spending power.

The headaches of 2020 are also challenging Vietnam to maintain its reputation as south east Asia’s manufacturing hotspot. Rising costs and xenophobic foreign policy have put China ‘on the nose’ with some governments, complicating factory work in China, whilst other south east Asian countries lack infrastructure and are incurring higher wage costs.

One Vietnamese factory operated by Taiwan-based Pou Chen Group, which produces footwear for top international brands, has laid off 150 workers earlier this year. There are hundreds more examples of the impact of falling demand in the bustling Vietnamese manufacturing economy.

Vietnam’s border closure is also preventing investors from making trips, setting up meetings and pushing projects forward. Those projects in turn create jobs, fostering Vietnam’s growing middle class. Tourism has also been badly affected by the restrictions on travel. “International tourism is dead,” says Jack Nguyen, a partner at Mazars in Ho Chi Minh City.

“Inbound tourism usually makes up 6% of the economy.”

“Things will only pick up only when the borders are open and there’s no quarantine requirements. Who knows when that’s going to be.”

A mid-year COVID-19 outbreak in the coastal resort city Danang followed by the start of the school year has reduced domestic travel, analysts say. Some of the country’s hotels are up for sale as a result.

“Recovery could take 4 years.”

The Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment is now warning that global post-pandemic recovery could take as long as 4 years, perhaps more.

Not that foreign investors in the country are pulling out. Indeed, many are tainge a long-term view that Vietnam’s underlying strengths will outlive Covid-19. Vietnam reports just 1,069 coronavirus cases overall.

SOURCE: VOA News

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Thailand

Thai Air Asia returns to Suvarnabhumi in addition to its Don Mueang hub

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Thai Air Asia returns to Suvarnabhumi in addition to its Don Mueang hub | The Thaiger

Thai AirAsia is spreading its Bangkok wings and opening up a secondary hub at the main Suvarnabhumi airport (BKK), to help broaden its attraction and bolster its bottomline. Thai Air Asia was the first airline to head back to the moth-balled Don Mueang in 2012 to re-establish the older airport after all the airlines moved across to the new Suvarnabhumi and discount airlines were seeking a lower-cost base.

Although Thai Air Asia carried 22.15 million passengers last year, this year’s total will fall a long way short, just 6 million for 2020 up to date. Under the new set up, Thai AirAsia will have resumed nearly 90% of its pre-Covid domestic services, a total of 109 daily flights to 39 destinations. There will be 97 flights from Don Mueang Airport and 12 from Suvarnabhumi Airport.

With only a handful of international traffic, Suvarnabhumi officials are keen to re-kindle revenue for the massive airport and have struck a deal with Thai Air Asia to trial operations from BKK. They will be the only domestic carrier to operate flights from the two airports.

If the 2 month trial at Suvarnabhumi is successful, Thai AirAsia plans to add another plane to the BKK fleet by the end of the year. At this stage the trial is only approved up to the end of November.

Thai Air Asia have been concentrating on their ‘bus’ model to ferry passengers from the terminals to their aircraft waiting on remote airport aprons, and visa versa, to avoid some of the landing charges and using the sky-bridges. Some passengers have been complaining about the long trips in crowded buses, wild rides and over-enthusiastic air conditioning, whilst being told to strictly adhere to social distancing.

This week the Malaysian parent company Air Asia, announced the introduction of a ‘super app’, in an attempt to off-set the significant financial losses brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. The mobile application shuffles Air Asia’s model as a flight and accommodation provider, to a broader platform of complimentary services. The app will offer users a variety of options, including digital payment services, delivery services, and an e-commerce platform. Air Asia Chief Executive and founder, Tony Fernandes, says the idea for the app was floated prior to the pandemic, but Covid-19 hastened its development.

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Thailand

Thailand’s first cancer medicine factory expected to cut drug costs in half

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thailand’s first cancer medicine factory expected to cut drug costs in half | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Prachachat

The government just sealed the deal to build Thailand’s first factory to produce cancer-treating medicine and chemicals, a move that is expected to cut treatment drug costs in half. Buying imported cancer-treating drugs is expensive. Thailand spends about 21 billion baht per year on imported cancer medicine, according to Deputy PM and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.

The local factory is intended to give Thais more affordable and also more accessible medicines for treating cancer. Cancer is the leading cause of death in Thailand, Anutin says, adding that each year, 80,000 people in Thailand die from cancer.

Thailand's first cancer medicine factory expected to cut drug costs in half | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: CDC Thailand

The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation signed a contract with PTT to build the plant. Construction will be begin in 2022 and they would start producing commercially until 2027. The factory will produce variety of drugs for many different types of cancer, including drugs for chemotherapy, according to the organisation’s managing director.

“This factory will have the capacity to produce 30 million units of chemotherapy drugs and 31 million units of biological drugs per year, with a focus on patents that will expire first. Once there is enough for domestic use, we can boost our production capacity for export. This will make cancer drugs cheaper in the country and will also help push for them to be included in the national list of most-needed medications.”

The factory is planned to be in Rayong’s Ban Chang district at the PTT Wanarom Eco Zone Industries estate. The feasibility study is expected to take 14 months.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Nation Thailand

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