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Businesses brace for impact of diesel hike

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Businesses brace for impact of diesel hike | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Businesspeople foresee price rises across the board due to the recent 4% rise in the price of diesel fuel, though they believe it will take some time before the impact is felt in the retail sector.

The 60-satang-per-liter price hike, announced last Tuesday, reflects the Energy Ministry’s inability to continue subsidizing diesel at a rate of 3 baht per liter.

The Ministry, which has already subsidized diesel to the tune of 68.8 billion baht since the beginning, now views the program as unsustainable in the face of rising diesel prices internationally.

Energy Minister Prommin Lerdsuridej said the government would not raise prices again this month because it wants time to assess the effect of the first hike on the economy.

Phuket Chamber of Commerce President Eam Thavornwongwongse told the Gazette that the increase, while necessary, would surely ripple through the entire economy.

He said prices at retail shops, especially in tsunami-affected provinces, would be closely monitored [by the Commerce Ministry] to ensure that any increases reflect real market pressures.

The Commerce Ministry recently issued an urgent request to more than 400 retailers asking them to freeze consumer-goods prices until the end of next month.

Tada Pitchayaporn of the Phuket Commercial Office, which will do the monitoring, said any associated rise in the retail sector should take at least a month because major retailers are sitting on large stocks. Intense competition in the retail sector should also act to ensure that prices would not rise until market forces cause them to, he said.

“If producers can continue to supply goods at current prices, retailers won’t have to pass on increases to consumers. No retailer wants to be seen as the first one to increase prices, as that would hurt customer loyalty,” he said, adding that any customers with evidence of price gouging could call his office (Tel: 076-213482; 076-212017) to make a complaint.

The Phuket branch of Big C was reported in the state-run media as having already announced a three-month price freeze, although the Gazette has been unable to confirm independently whether this is true or whether any other large retailers intend to follow suit.

Although the transport sector is already faced with increased costs, K. Tada said the Transport Business Association of Thailand has yet to agree to any rate increases among its members. He said that such increases were inevitable, however, due to the global trend of rising oil prices.

Still reeling from the affects of the tsunami, the local fishing industry is particularly alarmed by the increase.

Phuket Fishermen’s Association President Somyod Wongboonyakul told the Gazette that increased diesel prices would have a greater affect on small-scale coastal fishermen than on the owners of larger deep-ocean vessels.

Larger boats could still buy diesel sold tax-free by vessels operating offshore. The price under the government’s “green oil” program, which was set up to eliminate oil smuggling, will remain lower than those for diesel purchased on land, though they will also rise in line with actual costs.

Pointing out that fuel constitutes 60% of the operating costs of fishing vessels, K. Somyod said that when the green fuel price increases, many fishermen may find it no longer economically viable to go out to sea.

“There are at least 40 big fishing vessels in Phuket, about 10% of which are already staying in port as a result of the price hike. It’s possible that we will all stop working if it keeps going up,” he said.

He added that the National Fisheries Association of Thailand (NFA) would propose implementation of a new subsidy program to the government which ethe NFA is calling the “purple fuel” initiative. This would allow fishermen to buy fuel at reduced cost by using vouchers issued by the Fisheries Department.

Tour operators also expect to feel the pinch from the diesel fuel price hike in the short term. Wichai Ruangjaruwattana, Vice President of Phuket Tour Operators and Transportation Association, told the Gazette he expected it take about two weeks for the increase to affect their businesses. Fuel accounts for about 30% of operating costs, he said.

He added that he expected operators to try to reduce costs in other areas, such as payroll, in order to remain competitive and to continue helping to attract tourists back to Phuket.

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Crime

Now you see him, now you don’t… Patong Police hunt foreigner over $30k theft

Greeley Pulitzer

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Now you see him, now you don’t… Patong Police hunt foreigner over $30k theft | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Patong Police

Patong Police have yet to develop any tangible leads tracking down a foreigner who made off with US$30,000 in cash from a currency exchange booth in Kalim, north of Patong in Phuket, last Tuesday.

The man is about 168 centimetres tall with grey hair and around 60 years old, Patong police told The Phuket News.

“We have no clue what nationality he is.”

He was last seen at the currency exchange booth wearing a purple polo shirt, blue jeans and black cap. Police have checked hotels in the area, police stations across the island and Phuket Immigration, but have yet to join the dots and come up with firm leads.

“Investigators have checked CCTV in the area and collected what evidence we have but we still do not know the man’s name or where he was staying.”

The man had visited the booth several times before Tuesday, when he disappeared with the $30,000 in US banknotes, according to police.

“It was always small amounts”, he added, noting that the amounts didn’t warrant staff at the exchange booth to check the man’s passport before making the exchange.

The man arrived at the booth again at about 1pm on Tuesday, saying that he had 900,000 baht cash to exchange.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Crime

Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room

The Thaiger

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Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Phuket Hot News

The security guard of a hotel in Nai Yang, northern Phuket, 52 year old Yingyot Butsabong, from Maha Sarakham province, was found dead yesterday (October 16) in his room. Police remain mystified how the man came to grief.

A woman named Supattra received a call from the hotel he worked at and was informed that he didn’t show up at work yesterday, so she went to his apartment to check on him.

She saw that his room was locked from the inside, so used the key she had in her possession to open the room and found Yingyot laying on the floor, face down. She thought he was just sleeping so she tried to wake him up but once she flipped him, she found that he already passed away.

She immediately called Saku police, and once on the scene, police found that there was some blood on the floor. The man had a 2 centimetre wound on his left eyebrow which was deep into his skull. There was also a wound on his chin about 1 centimetre long and about a centimetre deep. His left eye had a bruise which looked like he was attacked by a hard object.

Police report that he had been dead for around four hours in the room.

The room was not ransacked and there was no sign of fighting or theft. His body has been sent to Thalang Hospital for a detailed autopsy and to look into the cause of death.

SOURCE: Phuket Hot News

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People

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people

Nattha Thepbamrung

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‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | The Thaiger

On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.

The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.

One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

One of the works created by the Happening team; a painting of HM the King Rama 9 on a huge wall (Photo credit: Chawat Chumpasan)

There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.

This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.

This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.

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