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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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Phuket

Police searching for the killer after shooting near Saphan Hin

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Police searching for the killer after shooting near Saphan Hin | The Thaiger

A Thai man has been shot dead near Saphan Hin in eastern Phuket earlier today. The arrest warrant has already been issued for the suspect.

The Wichit Police were notified of the incident on Rattanakosin 200 pi Road near Saphan Hin at 3.40am this morning.

Police and rescue workers arrived to find the body of 30 year old Teerasak Saeong from Phuket covered with blood and laying on the road. Two bullet wounds were found on his right and left temple.

Seven bullets were also found around Mr Teerasak’s body. Nearby they found a motorbike. His body was taken to Vachira Phuket Hospital for full autopsy and identification.

Witnesses told police that Mr Teerasak was stopped on his motorbike and was talking with the suspect who was in a black car. The suspect shot at Mr Teerasak and sped away.

Mr Teerasak was the son of a member of Rassada’s Municipal Council. At this stage police believe that the two had personal conflicts. Police are now searching for the driver of the vehicle who shot Mr Teerasak.

Police searching for the killer after shooting near Saphan Hin | News by The Thaiger Police searching for the killer after shooting near Saphan Hin | News by The Thaiger Police searching for the killer after shooting near Saphan Hin | News by The Thaiger

 

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Phuket

Danish tourist dies in Phuket road accident

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Danish tourist dies in Phuket road accident | The Thaiger

A male Danish tourist, driving a motorbike, has died after colliding with a truck in front of a market in Kathu.

The Kathu Police were notified of the incident on Phra Phuket Keaw Road in front of the new outdoor Vintage Market in Kathu at 3am yesterday morning.

Police and Kusoldharm rescue workers arrived at the U-turn to find the truck and driver waiting. The driver of the truck was 36 year old Sontaya Suchata waiting in the middle of the U-turn area.

Nearby they found a damaged Honda PCX and 51 year old Claus Pathuel Jensen, a Danish national from Glostrup. He was found unconscious under the truck. He was rushed to Vachira Phuket Hospital but was pronounced dead upon arrival.

Police report that the truck was going to take a U-turn outside the market area. The truck driver says he was unaware that Mr Jensen was coming from behind in the right lane. The motorbike was unable to avoid the collision with the truck and Mr Jensen PCX ploughed into the rear of the vehicle.

Danish tourist dies in Phuket road accident | News by The Thaiger Danish tourist dies in Phuket road accident | News by The Thaiger Danish tourist dies in Phuket road accident | News by The Thaiger Danish tourist dies in Phuket road accident | News by The Thaiger

 

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Phuket

Australian woman deported for overstaying visa by over 100 days

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Australian woman deported for overstaying visa by over 100 days | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Facebook/Claire Johnson

An Australian woman, who was caught overstaying her visa by 111 days, will be released from detention and deported by Thai authorities tonight.

She came to the media’s attention on Monday after sending urgent messages to a friend saying that she was being taken to a detention centre and that “they are taking my phone”.

46 year old Claire Amelia Johnson is an Australian Gold Coast resident. She will depart Bangkok on a QANTAS flight scheduled to arrive in Sydney tomorrow (Friday) morning.

She was due to return to Australia more than a week ago but on Monday evening sent messages to her friend Juliet Potter and told her that she was in an immigration detention centre in Bangkok and begged her to please “help me”.

Read The Thaiger story about her desperate pleas HERE.

Ms Johnson had been running a medical tourism business called Cosmetic Holidays International that offered cosmetic packages in Phuket”.

The business was voluntarily deregistered with the Australian Securities Commission in May 2017, after five years of operation, but her social media accounts continued to promote her cosmetic-surgery tourism business.

Thailand’s immigration chief, Surachate Hakparn, told Australia’s Fairfax media that Ms Johnson had been arrested, as well as fined, and would be deported after overstaying her tourist visa by more than 100 days.

“My Immigration Department will send her to Australia. She leaves tonight.”

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade would say only that it was “providing consular assistance to an Australian woman detained in Thailand”, without naming Claire.

Australian woman deported for overstaying visa by over 100 days | News by The Thaiger

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