Anti-flood framework for estates ready soon

Details on the allocation of money for flood-prevention systems at the seven inundated industrial estates will be finalised next week, says the Industry Ministry.

Bangkadi Industrial Estate in Pathum Thani’s Muang district is inundated in this Oct 23, 2011 file photo. Details of flood-prevention funding are expected next week, although estates such as this one, which is under the Industrial Works Department instead of the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand, may encounter legal snags over the money.

The initial proposal will belong to the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT), which asked for loans from the Government Savings Bank so the estates can set up dykes, Industry Minister M.R. Pongsvas Svasti said yesterday.

"The IEAT has revenue of only 2-3 billion baht per year, so they will have to ask for loans," he said.

The government has agreed in principle to allocate two-thirds of the 2.4 billion baht as straight government grants, with the rest to be soft loans carrying interest of 0.01% and a maximum 15-year repayment period.

The minister noted, however, that some areas that are under the authority of the Industrial Works Department, such as Bangkadi Industrial Park, may encounter snags.

"The IEAT, as a state enterprise, has more flexibility than the department, which is a government unit, so we need to take look at relevant laws," said M.R. Pongsvas.

He added that revenue from the IEAT that needs to be sent to the government may be waived in order repay the loans, while another possible option is to use money from the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

In a related development, M.R. Pongsvas said after a meeting with the Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) that Japanese investors are still interested in Thailand.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will visit Japan next month for a seminar to boost confidence among Japanese investors.

M.R. Pongsvas said a survey of Japanese corporations in Thailand showed overall sentiment had returned almost to the same level as before the floods.

Jetro president Setsuo Iuchi declined to provide further details.

An Industry Ministry source predicts first-quarter business sentiment will improve despite lingering political issues.

"Nearly 100% of Japanese businesses are staying in Thailand. Only 2-5% are considering relocating," said the source.

"However, they want to see a clear long-term plan."

In addition, Toyota Motor Thailand has asked the ministry to look into the tax reform proposed by the Excise Department last year to promote alternative fuels and reduce emissions.

"We're still studying tax reform, which will be based on emissions," said M.R. Pongsvas. "A decision has not been made, as this is a very sensitive issue since each vehicle releases different amounts of carbon dioxide and we must be fair to each firm."
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