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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        4  May 2011

Thai cabinet spends before elections

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Thailand’s business leaders said the Thai cabinet's final spending spree was just politics as usual.

The cabinet yesterday staged a marathon meeting to push through at least 160 proposals before the House is dissolved for an election, but the business sector was taking little interest in the action.

Executives expressed serious concern over the threat of inflation to the Thai economy, not only for now but for the next two to three years given high oil prices and rising costs of raw materials, said Payungsak Chartsutthipol, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose to a 15-month high in April of 4.4 percent year-on-year, compared to the Commerce Ministry's full-year target of 3.2 percent to 3.7 percent, and oil prices are trading around $120 per barrel.

At a meeting yesterday of the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking, Mr Payungsak said automotive and agribusiness producers worried about overseas shipments falling in this quarter as inadequate material supplies had forced them to cut production.

The country's automakers have forecast the loss of 150,000 units with financial damage of 75 billion baht (US$2.5 billion) because they cannot secure parts from Japanese plants damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Meanwhile, recent southern floods have reduced supplies of agricultural produces and shrimp normally raised in the region, he said.

The FTI's Automotive Industry Club said the significant drop in output had prompted them to focus only on the domestic market and cut exports, said Mr. Payungsak.

The FTI together with the Chamber of Commerce and the Thai Bankers Association yesterday also called on the government to focus its policies on the country's long-term competitiveness, for example, to promote Thailand as trading and logistic hubs, as well as industrial restructuring.

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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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