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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: PM orders flood action; Govt mulls ISA add-on; First-car scheme costs Bt30bn payout

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: PM orders flood action; Govt mulls ISA add-on; First-car scheme costs Bt30bn payout | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Prime minister orders immediate action in flood-affected provinces
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: A priority list of flood-relief provisions was issued yesterday by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to immediately tackle the problems faced by flood-affected residents, via a network of local administrative bodies under Interior Ministry supervision.

The eight provisions, implemented on the direct orders of the prime minister, are divided into immediate and post-flood action, including the prevention of flooding in key areas not yet inundated. Other areas to be dealt with include the repairing of roads and damaged public property, the inspection of flood-caused damage, security for people in flood shelters, post-flood medical treatment, and the prevention of water-borne diseases.

Yingluck, who as defence minister is head of the Defence Relief Operations Centre, has also signed an order to activate a large number of military-owned water pumps and other pieces of flood-prevention equipment to be used in flood drainage operations in Chachoengsao, now heavily submerged.

The pumps are also being used in eastern and western Bangkok to drain away shallow floodwater.

After two days of heavy rain brought by Storm Nari, Chachoengsao is now severely flooded. Residents living along the swelling Bang Pakong River have either been evacuated or moved to the second floors of their properties. The situation could worsen during the peak high tides on November 6-8, as the province is near the Bang Pakong Estuary.

The national flood update said yesterday that a total of 22 provinces have now been flooded, covering 4,109 villagers in 93 districts. Meanwhile floodwater in another 24 provinces is dissipating.

The flood-caused casualties reached 61 yesterday with a total of 674,952 people in more than 236,757 households affected by the national disaster. Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said water gates run by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, especially those located in the suburbs, would remain closed for the time being to curtail flooding in the capital.

However, they would later be opened to help ease flooding in neighbouring provinces, including Chachoengsao, he said.

Kabin Buri district in Prachin Buri – the first province to suffer from this year’s floods on September 17 – is still heavily inundated, with average floodwater levels recorded at 1 metre. Three other districts have also recorded average floodwater levels at 80 centimetres.

Meanwhile, the Chao Phraya River in Ayutthaya has swelled another 5cm, but has not yet reached a critical level.

Seven of Ayutthaya’s 16 districts have been declared disaster zones, entitling them to a portion of the Bt40-million emergency-relief budget.

Bt30 billion refunded under first-car scheme
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: About Bt30 billion was refunded to 500,000 people who bought cars under the government’s first-car scheme, while the fourth quarter of this year is expected to see Thailand’s car production hit 600,000 units with the prospect of production during the year exceeding 2.55 million units, according to the Excise Department.

Somchai Poolsavadi, director-general of the department, said that the rebate continued as expected with a total budget of Bt40 billion for fiscal year 2014.

The Comptroller-General’s Department has made total refund of about Bt30 billion to 500,000 buyers under the first-car scheme.

Some first-car buyers have experienced delay in receiving their rebates due to the information-checking process, he conceded.

“Usually, a buyer will receive the rebate one month after a year of ownership. However, buyers in some areas have seen some delays due to the manual inspection process,” he said.

Presently, cases are being filed against two buyers who did not meet the conditions of the first-car scheme.

The number of those who have not received their cars yet dropped to 104,000 from 130,000 earlier.

“Some of these pre-orders may have been dropped given the large number of new models and attractive campaigns,” Somchai said.

Surapong Paisitpatnapong, spokeman for the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI)’s Automotive Industry Club, said that about 130,000 pre-orders under the first-car policy were with car dealers. The Excise Department and car dealers have asked customers through short message services and direct contact whether or not they would exercise their rights.

“Some customers have not received the cars under the first-car scheme as now car camps are offering campaigns for cars, especially pickups, with more benefits. Recently, dealers said that some models in stock have started to ease with the exception of small-sized cars,” Surapong said.

Pre-orders continue to rise, but financing has become more stringent. About 20-30 per cent of total pre-orders failed to pass credit approval.

As discussed with car camps, he said the Thai car market could see a normal situation after ending the first-car policy. Total car sales are estimated at 80,000-120,000 units per month.

In fiscal 2013, the Excise Department’s actual revenue reached Bt430 billion, exceeding its target of Bt410 billion, Somchai said. The revenue target is estimated at Bt463 billion in fiscal 2014.

Based on this year’s estimated 4-per-cent economic growth, the Excise Department’s revenue may reach its target, mainly due to domestic consumption. The main excise items include cars, liquor, beer and tobacco,” he said.

The recent increase in tax levied on liquor could boost an annual increase of Bt10 billion to Bt15 billion in tax collection. In the past one to two months, consumption has not yet risen as there was an adjustment period for operators. However, the Excise Department will assess the result later this year, which is the high season for tourism.

Peace a priority whichever way Preah Vihear ruling goes: PM
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday pledged to cooperate with Cambodia to keep the peace along the Thailand-Cambodia border whatever the ruling handed down by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the upcoming Preah Vihear territorial-dispute case.

“The two countries will try to cooperate to keep peace along the border,” Yingluck said.

The ICJ is scheduled to deliver its ruling on November 11, after Cambodia asked the court in April 2011 to interpret its 1962 judgement to clarify which areas around the temple came under Cambodian sovereignty. Yingluck said both Thailand and Cambodia wanted to see the area remain peaceful.

General Nipat Thonglek, permanent secretary for the Defence Ministry, said Yingluck, in her capacity as the defence minister, would not be expected to travel to The Hague to hear the ruling.

Nipat said Yingluck would chair a meeting of the concerned government agencies on Monday to discuss how to maintain law and order along the border on the day of the ICJ’s ruling.

An Army source said Intelligence from the Second Army Region showed that Cambodian troops withdrawn from Preah Vihear early this year had returned to the area around the ancient temple three days ago.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Points deduction system for drivers to be introduced mid-December

The Thaiger

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Points deduction system for drivers to be introduced mid-December | The Thaiger

The point deduction system, for traffic and road infringements, is tentatively scheduled for activation for motorists and motorcyclists in mid-December. It is hoped that the system will help reduce road fatalities and injuries on Thai roads.

The deputy commander of Highways Police Command says that every licensed driver will be given an allocation of 12 points. Each time the driver commits a traffic law violation, points will be deducted. When there are no points left, the driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days, after which the driver or motorcyclist will have to undergo training administered by the Land Transport Department to get their licence back, and another 12 points.

Those who don’t attend the training, however, will have their licence returned after 90 days, but with only 8 points.

Points to be deducted differ, depending on the offence. Offences are divided into four categories:

• One point deduction

Using a cell-phone while driving; exceeding the speed limit; not wearing crash helmets for motorcyclists; not wearing seat belts; not giving way to emergency vehicles, riding on the sidewalk and not stopping for pedestrians on zebra crossings.

• Two points deduction

Running a red light; driving on the wrong side of the road; reckless driving; driving while his/her license is suspended and drunk driving.

• Three points deduction

Organising or promoting street racing without permission; hit-and run; driving while under the influence of narcotics; driving while under the influence of alcohol exceeding 150mg per ml.

• Four points deduction

Driving under the influence of alcohol exceeding 200mg per ml, drunk driving in a way which may cause serious injuries or death to the other people; driving in a manner disregarding the safety of the other people or causing trouble to other people.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Economy

Opposition hits out at government’s military spending in 2020 budget

May Taylor

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Opposition hits out at government’s military spending in 2020 budget | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Reuters | The Business Times

The opposition is accusing the government of being more concerned with military arms than the daily struggles of Thai citizens. During a debate in Parliament on the budget bill, the government was accused of caring more about the growth in military spending than citizens’ financial woes.

The opposition levied the attack after PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha delivered the 3.2 trillion baht bill to the House of Representatives. The debate on the 2020 budget is expected to continue for two more days and if approved by Parliament, the bill will come into force early next year.

The PM says the budget aligns with the “20 year strategy” to improve the living standards of the nation’s citizens while growing the economy, but opponents accuse him of making defence spending a priority.

The leader of the opposition, Sompong Amornvivat, claims that in the five years the PM has been in power, total spending has hit 14.3 trillion baht, with loans of 2.2 trillion baht, without any significant growth in the economy. He accuses the government of spending more than 6 billion baht on defence, with the Interior Ministry getting 25 billion baht more than last year.

It’s also understood that the government has also put 518.8 billion baht aside, which it can spend as it wishes, without the consent of Parliament.

The government’s tourism stimulus plan, whereby domestic tourists would be given cash incentives, also came under fire as Sompong declared it a waste of money that would do nothing to boost productivity.

The subject of the PM’s oath-taking fiasco reared its head again, as the leader of the Seree Ruam Thai Party, Pol General Sereepisut Temiyavej declared the PM and his government unfit to rule or propose a budget bill as a result of it.

Anudit Nakorntab from the Pheu Thai party said the government should postpone unnecessary spending on military arms while the country’s citizens battle economic hardship, accusing the previous junta-led administration of also prioritising the military in its spending.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Environment

Academics warn of high cost of Thai ban on agri-chemicals

May Taylor

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Academics warn of high cost of Thai ban on agri-chemicals | The Thaiger

The chairman of the Thai Sugarcane Farmers Association, Thongkam Cheongklad, says a ban on the weed-killer paraquat would have a severe impact on production costs. Academics and Thai sugarcane farmers have also expressed their concern over the ban, saying it could cost the industry up to 570 billion baht.

The Nation reports that up to 1.2 million people working in the sugarcane industry are understood to be against the ban, saying the proposed paraquat substitute is both expensive and ineffective.

The president of the Thailand Society of Sugarcane Technologists, Kitti Choonhawong, says Thailand has approximately 11 million rai dedicated to sugarcane plantations, generating about 300 billion baht a year.

He claims that a ban on agri-chemicals may lower sugar production, which in turn would affect sugar factories and cause the export market to lose as much as 94.6 billion baht. Thailand is currently the world’s second biggest sugar exporter, behind Brazil.

A research director from the Thailand Development Institute says the ban could ultimately mean the country is not allowed to produce enough food, unless chemical fertilisers are still allowed if chemical pesticides are banned.

Viroj Na Ranong says production costs will still rise however, along with labour costs, adding that the government needs to do its homework.

“The government has to implement measures based on research, not on social trends and politics.”

It’s understood that The National Hazardous Substances Committee will meet on October 27 to decide if a ban on three chemicals currently used in farming will go ahead. The substances involved are paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos and the proposal is for them to be banned from December 1.

SOURCE: The Nation

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