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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     21 October  2011

Thai companies to remain open

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Most businesses in Bangkok are still operating normally.

Businesses say they would rather carry on normal operations with well-prepared contingency plans rather than close because of flood warnings from the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. TMB Bank has had to close 11 branches in outer Bangkok areas affected by the floods, but it has set up a special team to monitor flood risk for those that remain open, said Pradit Leosirikul, a senior executive vice-president.

Branches located in high-risk areas have to report conditions every day. "The bank has planned for every possible scenario to cope with flooding in Bangkok. It has prepared for cheque clearing and cash reserves to serve financial transactions smoothly," he said.

Siam Commercial Bank has prepared sandbags and water pumps at high-risk branches and would close any affected branches only temporarily, said executive vice-president Phanporn Kongyingyong. However, flood-induced problems are on the rise, especially regarding deliveries to retailers' distribution centres, most of them situated in flood-ravaged Pathum Thani and Ayutthaya.

Chatchai Boonyarat, vice-chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the government needed to think about how to prevent shortages of consumer goods as many factories have shuttered operations.

He also said the government should relax the rules for large corporations to relocate production lines to safer places so that they can resume operations as quickly as possible.

It usually takes six to seven months for companies to secure relocation permission.

The chamber has also proposed that the Commerce Ministry use funds from its Blue Flag programme, which makes low-cost consumer goods available, to help provide trucks and establish new distribution centres that private businesses could operate.

Some corporate offices do not have any contingency plans as they are still confused about the flood information provided by the government.

A source at L.P.N. Development said her office on Rama IV Road remained open. More than 60 residential projects in Bangkok are still safe and riverside buildings are well equipped embankments and sandbags.

The company also has an SMS service that will inform people who are away from their homes to return if their building is at risk of being flooded.

Charoen Pokphand Group, the country's largest agribusiness conglomerate, has set up a centre and hotline for employees needing emergency help.

Punninee Nanthapanich, director of corporate communications of Charoen Pokphand Foods Plc, said flood-affected staff were being allowed to work at home or take leave.

CPF's food operations remain open as usual to ensure no shortages of supplies, she added.

CP Intertrade Co, the group's rice export arm, is using its 270-rai compound in Nakhon Luang district in Ayutthaya as a flood-relief centre and a parking area for helicopters.

Adisak Pramualmitra, executive vice-president of C.P. Intertrade, said the situation this week was better than last week thanks to receding water, enabling the company to deliver rice.

Siam Cement Group (SCG), the country's top industrial conglomerate, has allowed 5,000 employees at its Bang Sue headquarters to work from home from yesterday onward, as water levels are expected to rise at the area.

Those who need to be in the office, such as call-centre staff, have been moved to other safe locations such as Sathorn Road.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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