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Yingluck faces suit over B600bn losses

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Yingluck faces suit over B600bn losses | Thaiger

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Yingluck faces suit over B600bn losses
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) resolved yesterday that it will recommend the Finance Ministry to sue former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra for about 600 billion baht in damages – for failing to stop massive losses to state coffers incurred by her government’s controversial rice-pledging scheme.

NACC chairman Panthep Klanarongran stressed that the anti-graft agency was not going after anyone in particular. The compensation figure included an estimate of the loss in value of rice that degraded while stored for a long time under the scheme. And the Finance Ministry has that figure, he said.

The ministry would have to consider whether there might be others who should also be held responsible, he said.

The claim should not be lower than 600bn baht, as that was in line with the damage assessment by the NACC, which concluded with the third round of the rice project, he said.

Ms Yingluck was derelict in performing her duties as both prime minister and chairwoman of the National Rice Policy Committee in handling the rice-pledging scheme, he said.

The Finance Ministry had no choice but to act on the advice of the NACC because the law stipulates that the anti-graft agency makes a recommendation to a state agency that suffers corruption-related damage and because the Finance Ministry was the guarantor of all rice under the scheme, they had to take legal action, he said.

Asked if he was worried that the NACC would be viewed as aiming at Ma Yingluck in particular, Mr Panthep said the anti-graft officials had discussed this at their meeting, but said “what else could the NACC do?” – such action was required in the law governing the body.

The anti-graft agency would have to keep on trying to explain the matter till people understood – but he believed many people do.

“I insist that we act in accordance with the law. If there is still a lack of understanding, then we will have to keep on explaining until it is understood. It is believe that many understand.

“Nevertheless, the law did not state the timeframe for the Finance Ministry to take action. But the Finance Ministry is prepared and could probably move on it right away,” he said.

Yingluck told to report tomorrow

The Attorney-General’s Office has asked Ms Yingluck to report to it on Thursday so that prosecutors can indict her at the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders for allegedly failing to stop corruption and huge losses to the treasury from the rice-subsidy scheme.

The National Legislative Assembly voted last month to impeach her for the same charges.

Norawit Lalang, Ms Yingluck’s lawyer, said his client was ready to fight the case in court and would not flee the country or seek political asylum.

Last week, United States’ diplomats rejected reports that Ms Yingluck had sought asylum in the US.

Mr Norawit said Ms Yingluck was not legally required to be present in the courtroom when prosecutors charge her and he was waiting for Ms Yingluck’s decision on whether to appear in the court.

“Even if she does not report in person, that would not affect the case because no regulation stipulates that she must be there.

“If the Supreme Court accepts the case and schedules the first hearing, she must be present on that day, otherwise the case would be adversely affected,” he said.

A team of lawyers would brief her on details of the case again.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Illegal border crossings bringing in new Covid-19 infections

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Covid-19 infected border hoppers cross borders like this one betwen Malaysia and Thailand (via Wikimedia)

Authorities are worried about illegal border crossings into Thailand bringing in the Coronavirus after 5 recent Covid-19 infections from such crossings. Bypassing all health and security checkpoints along the border, 5 Thai nationals were identified today as being positive for Covid-19 after they snuck into the country, according to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

Authorities nabbed 2 after border crossings from Malaysia illegally on April 28 and May 3rd, while another snuck across the Burmese border into Tak on May 2. The last 2 came from Cambodia on Thursday across the Sa Kaeo border. All 5 illegal border crossers are now in state hospitals for Covid-19 treatment.

According to CCSA data in the first four months of 2021 a total of 15,378 people were arrested by Thai authorities while sneaking across borders. Even after security forces increased patrolling along the borders, people managed to sneak in from Myanmar, Malaysia, Laos, and Cambodia. 6,700 of those who crossed the border were Burmese citizens, while another 1,700 of them were Thai nationals.

With nearly 400 lives lost to Covid-19 and over 83,000 people having been infected in the pandemic, the CCSA declared that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and National Security Council Secretary-General Natthapol Nakpanich agree that these illegal border crossers without Covid-19 screening are a serious problem.

Many Thai people work in Malaysia and as the pandemic drags on they are sneaking across the border, desperate to make it home to their family. Another recent case found illegal Burmese border hoppers in a taxi en route to Hat Yai after they crossed into Thailand from the Malaysian border. They were trying to travel incognito across Thailand in order to cross the border again back into their home country of Myanmar.

The dilemma is even worse at the Burmese border as the often violent protests following the February 1 military coup has been pushing much of the country into poverty, and creating refugees who are flocking to the border in hopes of crossing over to safety. Many are seeking to escape the conflict and find work in Thailand.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Economy

Thailand Consumer Confidence Index hits record low

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Thailand's Consumer Confidence index slips again to below the pre-pandemic record. (via CNN)

The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce has reported that the Consumer Confidence Index has hit another new record low of 46.0 in April. The Covid-19 global pandemic has had a devastating effect on the economy and consumer confidence has fallen frequently to the lowest points that it has seen since 1998.

The president of the UTTC believes that consumers generally don’t feel like there has been much of a recovery for the economy since the global pandemic began and without a stimulating event to motivate economic growth, the index is expected to continue to fall further. The university estimated that if the third wave of Covid-19 continues past the end of May the economy can expect to lose 400 to 600 billion baht.

The UTTC president stressed that the government should hasten to step up relief measures and make sure they continue relief and economic stimulus throughout the pandemic to avoid economic catastrophe. He predicted that the economy and the Consumer Confidence Index will continue on a downward slope without any hope of improvement until the vaccine rollout gets well underway towards herd immunity, and new Covid-19 infections are decreased dramatically.

Today saw another 2,101 new Covid-19 infections and 17 deaths in Thailand. Vaccination efforts are continually being stepped up, but still remain woefully slow.

The Consumer Confidence Index first started falling last year, with a drop below the previous record low in 1998 in April of 2020, when it fell to 47.2. A few months later, by July of last year, it had recovered significantly, climbing back over 50. But by March of this year, the index had fallen again to 48.5. With April’s tumble of 2.5 points, the Consumer Confidence Index pushes once again to a new record low.

SOURCE: Thai Business News

 

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Thailand

Thailand searches for cow vaccine for lumpy skin disease

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: An example of a cow with Lumpy Skin Disease. (via newindianexpress)

Move over Covid-19 there’s a new disease sweeping the country as Thailand’s cow population is afflicted with a lumpy skin disease. The Department of Livestock Development is now working on procuring vaccines from overseas manufacturers to import and treat the cattle population in Thailand. The lumpy skin is caused by pustules that are the most visible symptom, perhaps more detectable than other bovine signs such as drooling, loss of appetite and drowsiness.

The cow disease is spreading in the North, Northeast, and Central Plains area of Thailand and has been found in 18 provinces total. First identified in Roi Et, it has now spread in Chiang Rai, Kalasin, Kanchanaburi, Khon Kaen, Maha Sarakham, Nakhon Pathom, and Nakhon Phanom. The first case of the lumpy skin disease was reported in Don Daeng village last month and on April 9th officials reported it to the World Organisation for Animal Health.

The lumpy skin disease is found in cow pens and spread through flies, ticks, and mosquitoes, but the DLD says not to panic, it is not transmissible to humans. The department is distributing important information about symptoms and how the disease spreads to breeders and farmers in the area. They’re requiring the breeders to monitor their cattle closely and have imposed measures to control the disease in heavy hit areas.

To prevent the spread of disease in livestock, traders are being requested to not buy and sell cattle within 50 km from disease-stricken regions. And for farmers caring for cattle, the DLD recommends spraying insecticide in all areas to prevent transmission via insects. Finally, in case the cattle were jealous of traveling humans, the DLD is advising farmers to prevent disease spread by isolating any new cow that comes into their farms with a 28-day bovine quarantine where they should be kept under nets to keep insects away.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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