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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        29  March 2011

Labor issues in Thailand’s growth model

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Corporate and government officials acknowledge the shortcomings in the country's fundamentals that require near-term fixes, especially manpower shortages.

Thiraphong Chansiri, Thai Union Frozen's president, pointed out a key challenge for local business is the shortage of both skilled and unskilled labor as well as constraints on the supply of raw materials..

Chanin Vongkusolkit, Banpu's president, said local firms proved they could withstand disruptive political factors, but efficient administration after the upcoming general elections would be important to improve competitiveness.

As a new election looms in a few months, Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij sought to reassure investors he would continue what he embarked on during the past three years of his administration.

He said one of the Finance Ministry's top policies was to strike a balanced budget excluding the interest burden over the next five years. In addition, it wants to reducing inequality and maximise value of its capital in loss-ridden state enterprises either by privatisation or boosting their efficiency.

"The next three or four years will be a really critical time to tackle these problems," he said. Four new mass transit routes in Bangkok are under construction and three are pending contract signatures. These projects and a high-speed train linking southern China should help to reduce the country's dependency on fossil fuel.

In terms of legislation, he said the ministry would continue to endorse the new public and private partnership bill and the land tax bill in the new parliament.

The former bill is aimed at boosting private investment under a public-designed framework by shortening the bureaucracy procedures from a one-year timeframe and reducing the uncertainty of the interpretation of eligible projects. The goal is to lift private participation significantly from 1 percent now.

Also addressing the forum, Prasarn Trairatvorakul, the Bank of Thailand governor, said the global economy was likely to continue to recover. But the United States and Europe's low-interest-rate policy used to deal with high unemployment could fuel their inflation if the oil price continues to surge.

"The US and European monetary policymakers are between a rock and a hard place as they balance structural risks to growth with new risks to inflation," Dr Prasarn said.

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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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