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Patong businessman blames “State sponsored extortion” for town’s latest tourism woes

Thaiger

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Patong’s best known businessmen and local identity Pisona Groups’s Peechawut ‘Prab’ Keesin, son of long-serving Patong Mayor Pian Keesin, has posted claims saying that “state sponsored extortion”, in the form of taxes, is forcing prices up for tourists. His post, along with photos of empty Patong streets, says the charges are forcing businesses out and tourists to leave.

“Patong is now facing economic problems as it is now the low season, as well as the country’s economic situation. Not many tourists are in Patong.”

“At the same time with the new tax calculation the Excise Department are trying to take 11% tax from the income of entertainment operators each month.”

He paints a gloomy picture for the party town which, despite incredible growth over the past two decades, sees its allure fading amongst a maturing Phuket tourism industry and changing customer demographic.

“About 35 percent of the entertainment operators have closed down. Many people are being unemployed.”

Prab says it’s only a matter of time before prices for tourists would rise, that’s on top of the high baht which means that many world currencies are not going as far in Thailand as they used to. Prab says the situation in Patong was already very quiet and this tax would make matters worse.

His main points from the extended editorial (translated)…

  • People were running scared.
  • Tourists and investors were disappearing.
  • New excise is 11% up.
  • The local authority have “clearly never been businessmen”.
  • The local people are not happy and leaving in droves.
  • They don’t want ‘fools’ running the local authorities.

Khun Prab also lays the blame fairly and squarely at the door of several government ministries including the Ministry for Sports and Tourism without providing any specific grievances with the Ministry’s performance.

“We are trying to find a solution to solve all these economic issues in Patong.”

Prab’s Pisona Group (Khun Prab is President of the company) is still a powerhouse in Patong, a town long run more to the rhythm of business-politics, mystery payments and tuk tuk & taxi ‘mafias’, and less by the local municipality and police.

Many governments, officials and police have tried to step into the muddy waters of Patong’s business politics without much success over several decades. The more they’ve tried to ‘fix things up’, the more things have stayed the same.

Patong’s place as Phuket’s leading tourist destination has been overshadowed in the past decade with many more accommodation options and attractions opening up around the island, outside of Patong.

Meanwhile there have been clear efforts in recent years of Patong businesses dragging themselves kicking and screaming into the 21st Century tourism industry. But it may be too little too late.

Some of Khun Prab’s better known business involvements include Hollywood Nightclub in Bangla Road, Paradise Beachclub, Kudo Beach Club and the Patong Bay Hill Resort.

SOURCE: TNews | ThaiVisa | Facebook/Prab Keesin

Patong businessman blames "State sponsored extortion" for town's latest tourism woes | News by Thaiger

President of Pisona Group and Patong’s best-known businessman, Peechawut ‘Prab’ Keesin

Patong businessman blames "State sponsored extortion" for town's latest tourism woes | News by Thaiger Patong businessman blames "State sponsored extortion" for town's latest tourism woes | News by Thaiger

 

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Business

Government will not re-capitalise struggling Thai Airways

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Wikimedia

The State Enterprise Policy Office says the government will not back a billion-baht cash injection for Thai Airways. The national airline is currently been dragged through bankruptcy proceedings.

Pantip Sripimol from the SEPO says the Thai Finance Ministry will not re-capitalise the carrier, although it remains its largest shareholder. The Bangkok Post reports that there are concerns Thai Airways could become a state enterprise once more if the ministry were to assume a majority stake once more.

Last September, the Finance Ministry reduced its stake in the national airline to less than 50%, in an effort to facilitate the debt-rehabilitation process. As a result, the carrier is no longer a state-owned enterprise and it’s understood a number of cabinet ministers are concerned that, should the airline regain its status as a state enterprise, the government would have to guarantee a billion-baht loan to ensure its survival.

The Bangkok Post reports that both the Finance Minister, Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, and Deputy PM, Supattanapong Punmeechaow, both support re-establishing the airline as a state enterprise. They argue that doing so would improve its financial situation and provide more leverage for negotiating with creditors. Such a move would mean the Finance Ministry becoming a majority shareholder once again.

As it is, the airline’s bankruptcy proceedings have been taken up with renegotiating with creditors – mostly aircraft lessees. The majority of Thai Airways’ fleet remains grounded and gathering dust, parked at Suvarnabhumi airport.

However, Pantip says the ministry will not re-capitalise the airline and is prepared to reduce its shareholding if other investors purchased additional shares. The ministry currently has a 49.9% stake in Thai Airways, with Pantip saying it would be difficult to justify a further cash injection to shareholders.

With the airline now operating as a private business, the government is no longer obliged to prop it up monetarily, nor is the Finance Ministry obliged to offer financial help to a private company, despite being its largest shareholder.

On Wednesday, creditors will meet to discuss the airline’s debt restructuring plan and decide if they are to accept it.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Business

Thailand jumps on the electric bandwagon, aims to become EV production hub

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Flickr / JCT 600

The Thai government has ambitious plans to turn the Kingdom into a Southeast Asian hub for the manufacture of electric vehicles. Nikkei Asia reports that big companies in Thailand are preparing to invest substantially in the greener mode of transport, after the National Electric Vehicle Policy Committee suggested a new manufacturing target could mean half of Thailand’s auto-production is made up of electric vehicles by 2030.

The message to car manufacturers and energy suppliers is to grab this opportunity to invest in the necessary infrastructure to support electric vehicles, as the number of drivers using such cars is expected to rise significantly. The Thailand Board of Investment says that between 2017 and 2019, investment in EV production and its infrastructure reached 79 billion baht. That figure is expected to rise at a much quicker rate over the next 3 years.

According to the Nikkei Asia report, Toyota was the first car manufacturer to make EVs in the Kingdom, with Chinese manufacturers becoming more competitive in recent years. The latest Chinese firm to join the EV revolution is Great Wall Motor, which plans to launch electric vehicles this year. The number of EV manufacturers in Thailand is also growing, but Surapong Phaisitpattanapong from the Federation of Thai Industries’ Automotive Industry Club says they still need to overcome serious supply chain challenges. He says manufacturers of the traditional internal combustion engine now find themselves trying to supply parts for electric vehicles, including batteries, motors and converters.

“It’s all about the economy of scale. If the number of EV users goes up substantially, it would be worth investing, and everyone, including auto parts makers, would be ready to switch to producing EV parts, and that would create supply chains that are ready for the development of EVs, but it will take time.”

Surapong points out that the government hasn’t provided enough subsidies to encourage the purchase of electric vehicles, saying there needs to be more of an incentive to deliver the sales boost needed.

“We think there should be a more direct subsidy for EV buyers to promote EVs, but we haven’t seen the government issue any kind of subsidies like that yet.”

SOURCE: Nikkei Asia

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Pfizer sees 45% increase in net income and revenue, as critics point to disparity in global vaccine availability

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Stock photo via Flickr

After seeing a 45% increase in net income from last year, Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant, is largely increasing its projected profits for this year. And, the increase is undoubtedly due to the high amount of Covid-19 vaccine sales, in which the company says is shaping up to provide a “durable” revenue stream.

The company says this year’s first quarter profits featured almost 1/4 of sales coming from the Covid vaccines. As it is teaming with German partner BioNTech, the company is set to increase its vaccine production, putting it on track to see US$26 billion in revenues from the vaccine this year. The new number-crunching is an increase from the US$15 million that was projected in February of this year.

But the profits are triggering criticism as governments are feeling pressured to ensure vaccines are available in poorer countries. Chief Executive Albert Bourla, says the company is holding dialogues with “basically all governments of the world,” and it is awaiting approval from the US for 12 to 15 year olds to be able to receive the jab.

The company is also studying the efficacy of giving inoculations, or boosters, every 6 or more months after the second dose- in a move that signals even more profits on the horizon. Bourla says this scenario would allow the company to be both a leader and a financial beneficiary.

“It is our hope that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will continue to have a global impact by helping to get the devastating pandemic under control and helping economies around the world not only open, but stay open.”

But last month, World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, cited a “shocking imbalance in the global distribution of vaccines” and emphasised that the WHO’s Covax programmes must be fortified soon to allow poorer nations to gain access to the inoculations.

Zain Rizvi, a law and policy researcher at progressive Public Citizen advocacy group, says Pfizer’s increase in profits show the need for governments to take action to save lives.

“Pfizer is cashing in on the crisis and hoarding technology, even as billions of people around the world go without a vaccine. Pfizer’s profiteering shows the urgent need for governments to step-in. Governments should require Pfizer to share technology with manufacturers around the world to help ramp up global production.”

Pfizer has defended its vaccine pricing policy, saying it has moderated the cost to encourage broad access through the pandemic phase that could continue into the year 2022. But with a net income increasing by 45%, at US$4.9 billion over the past year and revenues jumping the same percentage to US$14.6 billion, critics point towards the continued disparity of vaccine availability between poor and rich countries. Pfizer’s shares have also increased by .3% to US$39.95.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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