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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        19  May 2011

Bangkok recovers a year after riots

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One year after the arson and riots that hit Bangkok following weeks of political protests, the Thai government says it has made steady progress in assisting damaged businesses, with compensation and approved credit lines totaling 14 billion baht (US$460.9 million).

Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij told the cabinet yesterday that the sum covered soft loans for small businesses, compensation for arson damage, payments to laid-off workers, measures to help the tourism industry and tax relief aimed at reducing the burden on business operators. Direct payouts have totaled just over 4 billion ($131.7 billion) baht to date.

The government also suffered 4 billion baht in lost tax revenue from arson-affected businesses. PM's Office Minister Sathit Wongnongtoey said the Finance Ministry reported 10 billion baht worth of loans were offered via the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Bank (SME Bank). The SME Bank offered a first package of 5 billion baht to 10,067 entrepreneurs, with a non-performing loan rate of 1.87 percent.

A second package comprised 3 billion baht for SMEs and 2 billion for entrepreneurs with insurance.

The 3 billion baht extended to SMEs did not require collateral. Those borrowing with no collateral were eligible for less than 1 million baht, while those with collateral could borrow up to 4 million at the minimum lending rate minus three percentage points.

As of last month, 3,960 entrepreneurs had requested the loans, with the SME Bank approving a total of 2.25 billion baht.

The other 2 billion baht was earmarked for entrepreneurs who had insurance coverage but who had not yet received compensation.

The cabinet last week approved entrepreneurs borrowing up to 50 million baht each, 10 times the earlier approved amount of 5 million.

The Finance Ministry will submit a progress report to the cabinet next week.

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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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