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Central bank ready to launch soft loans

Legacy Phuket Gazette



Central bank ready to launch soft loans | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: The Bank of Thailand (BoT) – the country’s central bank – decided yeterday to establish a system allowing tsunami-affected businesses to get soft loans at interest rates of no more than 2% a year.

These loans would be channeled through the country’s commercial banks, which would repay the BoT at a rate of just 0.01% a year, Prasuksup Puangsokorn, Division Executive in the BoT’s credit and refinancing division, told the Gazette.

But this loan plan has yet to become reality. Banks are not obliged to join the scheme; those that do so must collate information on borrowers seeking post-tsunami loans and submit this information to the BoT before February 28.

K. Prasuksup said that the BoT would give loan requests from commercial banks top priority, disbursing the funds within a day of receiving a request.

In the meantime, however, most commercial banks continue to offer loans at the same rates as before the tsunami – 5% to 8% a year.

The soft loans scheme has not been greeted with universal enthusiasm. ML Vitaya Chakrabandhu, owner of Le Meridien Khao Lak, which suffered damage from the wave estimated at 500 million baht, criticized the government for not being supportive enough.

“We urgently need a loan to rebuild the hotel. We know that the government is going to offer soft loans, but we’ve found that it is very difficult to get such a loan quickly, and the rate [of 2%] is too high,” he said.

“We asked for a reconstruction loan [from our bank] in the week after the tsunami, but it has still not been approved. What we need is for the government to offer interest-free loans until the tourists return in large numbers. If we can attract guests, then we will be able to pay off loans and interest as we would normally.”

Wisut Kasayapanand, Manager of the Kamala Beach Resort, which sustained about 80 million baht in damage from the tsunami, called for the government to support small traders running businesses aimed at tourists.

He said, “The government should help by lowering taxes and interest rates for shops near hotels. We are trying to reopen as quickly as possible to encourage nearby shop owners to start trading again. If we opened alone and ignored the surrounding area, we would not survive.”

Wolfgang Meusburger, General Manager of the Holiday Inn Resort in Patong, which sustained more than 100 million baht in damage and is now closed for repairs, also called for the government to take a broader view in its support of tsunami-affected people and businesses.

“The government should ensure that the infrastructure in Phuket is [fully] restored as soon as possible, and should focus on reconstruction of Patong as a beach destination.

“They should make sure that the Patong beachfront is built up properly, and learn from the past.”

Mr Meusburger said that financial assistance for people who have lost jobs should also be a priority. “The government should help people who have lost their jobs to ensure that those people can have income,” he stressed.

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.


Thailand’s Social Security Office forced to explain investment in Sri Panwa Phuket Resort trust fund

Maya Taylor



Thailand’s Social Security Office forced to explain investment in Sri Panwa Phuket Resort trust fund | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sri Panwa Phuket Resort - Sri Panwa Phuket

The Social Security Office, a department under the direction of Thailand’s Ministry of Labour, is being asked to explain its investment in the trust fund of Phuket’s Sri Panwa Phuket Resort. The demand comes as members of the opposition and political activists call for an investigation into the property’s land rights. The owner of Sri Panwa Phuket, Vorasit Issara, has been condemned online recently, with his property attracting multiple negative reviews, after he criticised anti-government protest leader, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul.

Thai PBS World reports that the Civil Society for State Welfare is calling on the SSO to clarify its investment in the Sri Panwa Hospitality Real Estate Investment Trust, thought to be worth around 500 million baht. Nimit Thian-udom says that, while the SSO’s investment does not break any laws, the board must explain the reasons behind the investment decision and clarify the return on that investment. In addition, he says the SSO should attach more importance to good governance when choosing where to invest.

The call for clarity is echoed by opposition MP Chirayu Huangsap, from the Pheu Thai Party, who calls on the Labour Minister to explain the investment. He adds that any discrepancies will be reported to both the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission.

The land rights of the luxury Sri Panwa Phuket resort, which sits on prime land atop Phuket’s Cape Panwa, overlooking the south-eastern tip of the island, are also being called into question. Veera Somkwamkid, from the People’s Network Against Corruption, says he is looking into the property’s land rights and will pass his findings to the Department of Special Investigations.

For his part, the Labour Minister, Somsak Thepsuthin, says he doesn’t know if the property has been legally built, saying it’s up to the DSI to investigate and that a complaint does not need to be filed in order for them to do so.

Meanwhile, review site Tripadvisor has had to suspend reviews for the Sri Panwa resort, as anti-government netizens exact their revenge on the proprietor by posting negative feedback on the property.

“Due to a recent event that has attracted media attention and has caused an influx of review submissions that do not describe a first-hand experience, we have temporarily suspended publishing new reviews for this listing.”

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chachoengsao join UNESCO’s learning cities

Caitlin Ashworth



Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chachoengsao join UNESCO’s learning cities | The Thaiger

3 cities in Thailand recently joined UNESCO’s membership of so called “learning cities” which are said to promote “lifelong learning” and sustainable development. Chachoengsao, Chiang Mai and Phuket joined the UNESCO’s Global Network of Learning Cities. Altogether, 55 cities from 27 countries, adding up to 230 cities in 64 countries around the world, according to UNESCO.

“These cities are outstanding examples of how lifelong learning can become a reality at local level. They have proven that effective lifelong learning policies and practices can support the development of inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and contribute to the 2030 Agenda.”

The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning David Atchoarena says the recent new members have shown that they can make “lifelong learning a reality,” even after enduring the pandemic.

“With unprecedented urgency, the Covid-19-19 pandemic has underlined the necessity to build more resilient education systems for the future. With more than half of humanity living in urban areas, cities must be at the centre of this undertaking.”

David says he hopes it will inspire other cities in Thailand to follow.

“I very much hope that we will see many other cities from Thailand joining the network and working on providing lifelong learning opportunities for all to ensure a sustainable and peaceful future.”

The mayor of Chachoengsao, Kolayuth Chaisang, says his goal is to provide “effective education, thoroughly and equally to all citizens.” According to the Bangkok Post, the city is a key urban centre both economically and culturally.

The mayor of Chiang Mai, Tussanai Buranupakorn, says he wants to revitalise the city, while also maintaining the cultural significance. The city has a number of educational institutes, which goes along with UNESCO’s learning city principles.

Phuket is a hub of sustainable creativity, according to the Bangkok Post. The mayor of Phuket, Somjai Suwansupana, says he wants to preserve the city’s “identity, local wisdom assets and the charm of our multiculturalism.”


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Newborn baby found on bench in Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth



Newborn baby found on bench in Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siangtai/Newshawk Phuket

A newborn baby was found on a bench at a neighborhood by Phuket’s Patong Road. The baby boy was wrapped in cloth and left inside a reusable shopping bag. The bag also had a bottle of milk, diapers and clothing.

A woman walking by early in the morning heard the baby crying. She followed the cries and found the baby on the bench. She called police and calmed the baby, feeding him milk that was left in the bag.

Police took the baby to the Patong Hospital. The baby, about a week old, is in good health, police say.

“Police and rescue workers together rushed to the scene and called Patong Hospital to have a medical team meet us there … This baby is healthy and does not appear to have suffered any injuries. He is now safe and being cared for at Patong Hospital.”

Police are reviewing surveillance camera footage to see if they can track down the mother, or whoever left the baby behind.

Newborn baby found on bench in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Phuket News

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