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NEWS UPDATES 7 October 2009

Thai PM to discuss court order to suspend 76 investment projects

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Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjaiva has invited key officials of ministries and agencies concerned with the environmental impact issue to a meeting Wednesday to discuss ways to comply or otherwise respond to the Central Administrative Court’s order suspending 76 investment projects in the Mab Ta Put industrial estate in Thailand’s eastern seaboard province of Rayong, state news agency TNA reported.

The Administrative Court recently issued an injunction ordering the suspension of the projects because they did not pass a health impact assessment as required under Section 67 of the Constitution.

The premier said the case is not over since the government has appealed the court’s order.

In principle, he said, the government wanted the project development process to proceed, in order to boost investor confidence. But the hardship people are facing from the implementation of projects with inadequately environmental protection must also be recognised.

“We must properly understand the rules and regulations, and what the government should do. Undeniably, we (the Thai economy, including employment) will take a toll if the investment projects are suspended.

Earlier, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) Santi Villassakdanon said that most of the 76 suspended projects are not included in the eight industrial categories which are claimed to pose a health hazard to the community and negatively impact the environment and should, therefore, not be suspended.

The industry association chief said the court’s suspension order would affect business operators, compacting their cash flow and debt settlement with banks and other creditors. Banks will automatically stop granting credits and it could repeat the problems of the 1997 financial crisis which severely impacted Thailand, said Santi.

A significant number of Thailand approximately 100,000 workers in the industrial and construction sector would “become jobless” as a result of the court order and foreign investors may opt to withdraw their investments from Thailand and transfer them to other countries, he said.


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