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NEWS UPDATES 8 June 2010

Thailand undergoes yet another cabinet reshuffle

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Business leaders have praised the recent cabinet reshuffle, saying it allows more experienced hands to tackle the tough issues facing the country.

"Change is a good thing, though it shows there's still room for improvement," said Dusit Nontanakorn, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, at a Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking.

"I think they [the new cabinet members] will have to work under pressure.

"And we should let them do their job for another six months and look at their performance before judging them," he added.

The Industry Ministry is the highest priority change for the group as it has to deal with the Map Ta Phut dispute.

The new Industry Minister Chaiwut Bannawat, previously the deputy education minister, will replace Charnchai Chairungruang, the Puea Pandin Party's leader.

Payungsak Chartsutthipol, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, stressed the importance of the new industry minister's role.

Previous administrations had not placed enough focus on the vital role the industrial sector plays in the Thai economy, he said.

"Industry is such an important source of income, focusing on it can help restore confidence," he said.

Exports account for some 70% of the economy, much of which comes from the industrial sector.

Mr Payungsak said the new minister needs to move forward with Map Ta Phut, where it may take four to six months for many projects to gain approval, since more than 50 projects have already started conducting health impact and environmental impact assessments.

Paiboon Ponsuwanna, chairman of the Thai National Shippers' Council, said putting the right man on the job is most important.

"The ministers have the ability to help the country move forward," he said.

The Thai Bank Association reaffirmed its analysis that the European debt crisis is unlikely to affect Thailand thanks to strong risk management and the fundamentals of local banks.

The association's chairman Prasarn Trairatvorakul said local banks are scrutinised on international business deals with European financial institutions, especially for international trade finance business. However, these transactions are relatively infrequent.

Dr Prasarn said four guidelines for the country's recovery should be proposed soon. The guidelines should include a social reconciliation plan, dealing with inequalities due to uneven income distribution, anti-corruption measures and a tourism assistance relief package.


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