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Finance seeks Bt50-bn term loans to pay off rice farmers

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Finance seeks Bt50-bn term loans to pay off rice farmers | The Thaiger
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Finance seeks Bt50-bn term loans to pay off rice farmers
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Finance Ministry has invited 32 state and private banks to bid for the first phase of a three-year programme of bridge loans totalling Bt50 billion to pay rice farmers still owed under the pledging programme. The first Bt30-billion tender will be called early next month.

Pongpanu Svetarundra, deputy permanent secretary of the ministry, said those financial institutions interested in joining the bidding would be required to offer a minimum of Bt2 billion.

He said the ministry would open bidding for a term loan worth Bt30 billion on June 6, and a second tender for the remaining Bt20 billion on June 13.

After former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved the House of Representatives late last year and the government took on a caretaker role, which was prolonged by the failure to elect a new government in February, it was unable to raise the tens of billions of baht it owed farmers under the pledging project.

Accelerating these overdue payments to more than 800,000 farmers has been identified as a priority of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), as the military junta now calls itself. It says it will try to clear the books within a month.

As it will take some time for the Finance Ministry to borrow the Bt50 billion under its latest tender offer, the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) announced that it would ante up Bt40 billion to get some of the farmers paid in short order.

Luck Wajananawat, managing director of the BAAC, said this amount would come out of the bank’s own farmers’ relief fund.

“The bank believes that the remaining farmers will all be paid within a month,” he said.

Luck said that while waiting for the Bt50 billion to be borrowed by the Ministry of Finance, the BAAC would begin to disburse an amount not exceeding Bt40 billion so that the payments could start right away.

This operation would be guarantee by the ministry.

According to the BAAC, as of last Friday, of a total of 1.67 million contracts under the rice-pledging scheme worth Bt192.95 billion, the bank had paid off 833,182 contracts worth more than Bt100 billion.


Meanwhile, the Commerce Ministry’s permanent secretary Srirat Rastapana said it would set up a special task force, on which a representative from the NCPO would sit, to inspect rice stocks and warehouses nationwide.

A source in the Finance Ministry said its auditing committee had found that about 3 million tonnes of rice had disappeared from the stockpiles.

The junta’s decision to accelerate payment of farmers long owed money under the pledging programme could help stimulate the country’s economic growth to 3 per cent this year, says the Thai Chamber of Commerce.

After a meeting of the chamber’s regional boards in Bangkok yesterday, TCC vice chairman Somkiat Anuras said the Bt92 billion in payments to farmers would help boost confidence in the economy.

“The total payment of Bt92 billion that will be soon provided to farmers will boost economic growth by about Bt300 billion to Bt400 billion this year. As a result, the economy could grow by 3 per cent this year, higher the previous expectation of 1.5 per cent,” he said.

Somkiat said a survey of members during the weekend found that the business sector had more confidence in future growth, despite the impact on the economy due from a half-year of political turmoil.

To draw up plans for an economic road map, the chamber and the Board of Trade of Thailand are to hold a meeting of their members and seven other business organisations today. (May 27). The meeting’s conclusions will be proposed to the junta.

Somkiat said TCC members largely shared the view that cross-border trade would be a key economic driver this year amid uncertain overall export and tourism growth.

Asked about concerns about foreign investors’ confidence, Somkiat said this was the time to manage the mess the country found itself in. He expects that more confidence will be seen after Thailand solves its internal problems. He believes the NCPO will do this and reform the country in various aspects including politics, government, the economy and education.

According to the chamber’s survey, about 76 per cent of respondents had a gloomy economic outlook for this year because of the impact from political turmoil in the first half. However, most had a better outlook for future growth.

Viroj Jiratikanchote, chairman of the TCC’s committee on economic development of the Northern region, said the northern economy would see slow growth this year due mainly on the impact of the earthquake on the tourism sector. The tourism industry is expected to see this year’s revenue decline by Bt4.6 billion, or 4.6 per cent, from the previous forecast of Bt94.6 billion.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand beaches may limit visitors until Covid-19 vaccine is available

Caitlin Ashworth



Thailand beaches may limit visitors until Covid-19 vaccine is available | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Merve Selcuk Simsek

Beaches and national parks might not fully open to international tourists until a Covid-19 vaccine is available. Around 120 to 150 tourists departing from China are set to arrive in Phuket on October 8 after a 6 month ban on international tourists. They’ll have to go through a 14 day state quarantine, but after that, they may not be able to enjoy some of the island’s beaches. A report from Bloomberg says it’s “unlikely” beaches and parks will fully open to overseas travellers until a vaccine is out.

Thailand’s borders won’t fully reopen to international tourists until a vaccine is widely available to the public, according to Tourism Council of Thailand president Chairat Trirattanajarasporn. For the time being, only tourists on select charter flights with a 90 day Special Tourist Visa can enter the country.

“It’s good for the country to reopen even if it’s just for trial … Once we’ve tested our reopening plan for a month, we can assess how to go forward and allow more visitors to come in.”

The new Special Tourist Visa is an effort intended to help revive Thailand’s tourism industry which has been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic. According to Bloomberg, the sector makes but about a fifth of the nation’s economy. Last year, the tourism industry generated 1.9 trillion baht with about 40 million foreign visitors. With travel restrictions in place to control the spread of the coronavirus, Chairat predicts tourism revenue will drop 82.6% to 336.5 billion baht by the end of the year.

“Businesses that rely on foreign tourists, especially in Phuket, Samui, Pattaya and Chiang Mai, will continue to close in the coming months because there would only be a small group of people coming in after the reopening.”

SOURCE: Bloomberg

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Thailand News Today | Phuket re-opens, TripAdvisor review saga, Samut Prakhan chem spill | Sept 30

The Thaiger



Thailand News Today | Phuket re-opens, TripAdvisor review saga, Samut Prakhan chem spill | Sept 30 | The Thaiger

Daily TV news about Thailand. Updates and all the latest information from

Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months

The first group of tourists to arrive under Thailand’s new Special Tourist Visa scheme will land in Phuket on October 8.

The flight from Guangzhou in southern China will carry 120 tourists, who will spend their first 14 days in alternative state quarantine. They are reported to be travelling under the government’s new STV.

The resort islands of Phuket and Koh Samui will be the first to welcome travellers under the Special Tourist Via scheme. Guangzhou has not recorded any new cases of the Covid-19 virus for a prolonged period.

The CCSA reports that there will be a limit of 300 foreign tourists admitted each week, but this will be reviewed after the first phase of the re-opening. All arrivals will be subject to 14 day quarantine.

Minister calls for all complaints against Sarasas schools to be monitored amid abuse allegations

The Education Minister is asking the Office of the Private Education Commission to closely monitor all complaints filed against all Sarasas Witaed School branches around the country.

34 out of 42 of the schools have had complaints filed against them. Allegations of abuse first emerged when the actions of an abusive teacher at a branch of the school in the central province of Nonthaburi, just north of central Bangkok, were captured on CCTV.

Additional complaints made against several other branches of the private school allege harsh punishment, the charging of fees not sanctioned by the Education Ministry, and the use of unqualified teachers. The Thonburi school was also accused of using babysitters as teachers

The man who wrote the bad reviews for Koh Chang’s Sea View Resort has a criminal record

In the ongoing stoush between the American, Wesley Barnes, and Koh Chang’s Sea View Resort, it’s now been revealed that Mr Barnes has been of interest to the US judicial system in the past, being accused of firing a weapon at a bar in Jackson County, Missouri.

Wesley Barnes, who has been working in Thailand as a teacher, posted a number of negative reviews on different platforms, including Trip Advisor, allegedly accusing the Koh Chang resort of “modern day slavery”, amongst other complaints. He stayed at the resort in June this year.

But this isn’t the first time Mr Barnes has come to the attention of police.

In the US there was an incident which is now public record. There was an official police complaint against the 34 year old in 2017. He was accused of firing a weapon near Waldo Bar, and later at a convenience store, told people he was a federal agent prior to the initial incident.

Of course the man’s criminal record doesn’t prevent him from posting negative reviews but provides just a little more context to the ongoing saga between the hotel and Mr Barnes.

PM dismisses rumours of alliance with opposition to form new government

Thai PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha has rubbished rumours that the ruling coalition parties plan to join forces with the opposition Pheu Thai party to form a new government.

While the PM initially didn’t respond to the question, instead bidding reporters a good day and walking away, he did mumble that he had enough “headaches” with one of his coalition partners.

Meanwhile Deputy PM, Prawit Wongsuwan, also dismissed the question, accusing the media of being behind the speculation. Under the current constitution the Thai PM is elected by a parliamentary majority, and not automatically coming from the leader of the party with the most number of votes. But a coalition between Prayut and Pheu Thai does seem, at face value, extremely unlikely.

Around 10 villagers hospitalised after chemical spill in Samut Prakan

Around 10 people were hospitalised after a chemical tank spilled at a village in Samut Prakan, just southeast of Bangkok.

Those near the spill reported feeling nauseous and some had trouble breathing. Officials do not known what chemical was in the tank.

The 1 metre tank had been taken into the forest by 2 employees at a second hand shop who hoped they could take it apart and sell the scrap metal. The 2 employees fainted when the tank spilled. Trees and grass in a 100 metre radius of the chemical spill also died.

The chemical let off a strong odour and Thai media says the fumes spread to a nearby village. Those at the second hand shop, close by to the chemical spill, started to feel nauseous and some had trouble breathing. Some people reported skin rashes after the incident. Around 10 villagers, including children, were sent to hospital.

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Thailand farmers hope to grow and export cannabis by next year

Caitlin Ashworth



Thailand farmers hope to grow and export cannabis by next year | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Esteban Lopez

Under a proposed law, Thailand farmers would be allowed to grow cannabis and hemp for export without going through cannabis certified universities or medical institutes. The National Farmers Council president Praphat Panyachatrak says he hopes the new law will be in place by next year. The legislation is still being reviewed by the Public Health Ministry and National Legislative Assembly, but Praphat says he expects an announcement will be made soon.

Thailand’s recent rush to decriminalise and even legalise marijuana follows the Bhumjaithai Party joining the government coalition in 2019, headed by current Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul. His elected MPs provide essential votes for the fragile coalition. His party ran on a platform of legalising marijuana.

Thailand has been gearing up for the global cannabis trade with talk of classifying medical cannabis as an economic crop. The classification would allow the plant to be exported to other countries. The government has also talked about adding a variety of cannabis cultivars to keep up with the demanding cannabis industry.

The National Farmers Council has been advocating for the cultivation of cannabis and Praphat says the new law will make it easier for farmers to grow the plant. He adds that farmers would be able to get a permit to grow cannabis as soon as they got an order from overseas.

Recreational marijuana is still illegal in Thailand and is considered a Category 5 narcotic. Those charged with distributing cannabis face 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine from 40,000 baht to 200,000 baht. Those caught distributing over 10 kilograms of cannabis face up to 15 years in prison and a fine from 200,000 baht to 1,500,000 baht.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand | Chiang Rai Times

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