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PM hands deadline to ailing firms

Posted by pakin On January - 19 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Seven ailing state enterprises have been given a March deadline to propose their revised rehabilitation plans after they failed to meet all the requirements and targets set by the government last year.

The State Enterprises Policy Committee (SEPC), chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, met Monday to evaluate the seven state enterprises’ one-year performance and implementation of the 2015 rehabilitation plans.

The state enterprises include the embattled Thai Airways International (THAI), the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA), the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank of Thailand (SME Bank), the Islamic Bank of Thailand, TOT Plc and CAT Telecom.

“The committee has seen some progress and improvement since the implementation of the plans but some key issues have not been resolved and some requirements have not been met,” said Ekniti Nitithanprapas, director of the State Enterprises Policy Office.

They are required to revise the plans to make them more concrete and propose them to the committee by March, he said.

Gen Prayut instructed the committee to stop giving “yellow card” and “red card” warnings to executives of state enterprises who failed to improve their organisations’ standings as these measures may put too much pressure on them.

Those who receive red cards are transferred from their posts.

The committee then resolved to give scores of “outstanding”, “good”, “fair” and “should improve” to executives instead.

Mr Ekniti gave details of each state enterprise’s evaluation.

Last year, THAI failed to meet its target of cost reduction.

The company could only cut expenses by 7.26 billion baht, compared to the 10-billion-baht target.

The national flag carrier is required to propose a plan to reduce sales agents and increase online ticket sales.

The company is also required to delay the purchase of unnecessary aircraft.

The debt-ridden SRT is required to make more clear in its plan the aim to increase the role of the private sector in its investment projects to reduce the state’s financial burden.

The agency has been ordered to present its sources of funding whenever it seeks cabinet approval for investment projects.

The committee reiterated the need for the SRT to find private investors for the development of its Red Line and the extension of the Airport Rail Link to Don Mueang Airport.

Mr Ekniti said the SRT has made substantial progress in dual-track development and has already opened bids for two projects.

As for the BMTA, he said the agency is required to revise a plan to purchase new buses and to accelerate the bidding for 489 NGV-fuelled buses by March.

The loss-ridden Islamic Bank of Thailand is required to speed up its plan to seek business partners and reduce non-performing loans.

The SME Bank is also required to reduce its existing 20-billion-baht non-performing loans.

Meanwhile, TOT and CAT are required to make their roles clearer in the telecom industry and their business direction amid mounting competition.

Mr Ekniti applauded the TOT for its successful reduction of expenses by 10 billion baht last year, much higher than the target of 6.87 billion baht.

Meanwhile, the SEPC approved in principle a draft bill for state enterprise supervision paving the way for the establishment of the “superholding” organisation to oversee potential state enterprises.

Prasarn Trairatvorakul, chairman of SRPC’s subcommittee overseeing the establishment of the National State Enterprise Corporation, known as the superholding corporation, said the corporation would be 100% under the Finance Ministry.

It will act as a shareholder of 12 state enterprises which have been corporatised such as the Airports of Thailand, PTT Plc and MCOT Plc, said Mr Prasarn, the former Bank of Thailand governor.

Under the bill, the 15-member corporation board consists of five people from the government, five civil servants and five experts.

“State enterprises are national assets so it is impossible for the government to be totally uninvolved in them but we will find some mechanisms for checks and balances,” he said.

However, the bill required accountability of the government if it caused any damage due to any intervention.

Also on Monday, Prime Minister Prayut insisted that the draft bill is aimed at reforming state enterprises to boost their efficiency, not to privatise them.

The bill seeks to improve performance of the boards of more than 56 state enterprises. Of these, seven are in urgent need of revamping, such as the SRT. These state enterprises have never before been reformed and their problems have remained unsolved, he said.

Gen Prayut also said some problems cannot be solved through punishment or dismissals, adding that some of the existing members of state enterprise boards should be given a chance.

Meanwhile, a source at THAI said it is considering resuming Bangkok-Seoul-Los Angeles flights, halted on Oct 26 last year, following the global oil price slump.

PM says govt ready to cooperate with the OIC

Posted by pakin On January - 13 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha told Iyad Ameen Madani, secretary-general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, yesterday that his government was willing to cooperate with the OIC on all matters with the exception of violence in the deep South.

Thailand has expertise in various fields such as healthcare, agriculture, food security and the halal industry, Government Spokesman Weerachon Sukhonthapatipak quoted Prayut as telling the OIC chief after the meeting.

Meanwhile, Madani praised the government for its efforts to solve the conflicts in the predominantly Muslim Southern region via political means and dialogue.

Prayut told Madani that his government had a dual-track strategy to promote development in the area as well as promote peace talks with the insurgents.

The peace process has three phases: building trust, creating a code of conduct to cut down on confrontations, and building a consensus around the road map to peace, Weerachon said.

Prayut told reporters before meeting the OIC chief that he was not aware that the Mara Patani group had met with Madani in Malaysia to discuss peace solutions for the deep South. The Mara Patani group surfaced to explore possibilities of peace negotiations with the government recently.

Thai authorities are struggling to contain violence in the deep South that flared up in 2004, claiming more than 5,000 lives since. The OIC has occasionally criticised previous Thai governments for their treatment of the Muslim minority in the South.

“I’ve already had principles in my head. Don’t talk to me if you don’t have any principles. We can’t manage the issue on our own,” Prayut said. “How many lives have been lost [because of the insurgency]? No amount of money is worth their lives.”

The two sides also discussed the issue of Rohingya people who have been trafficked to Thailand frequently over the past years. The government promised to tackle the problem at its root cause and will take human rights into account, Weerachon said.

PM wants to tackle root of problems

Posted by pakin On December - 25 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday he had staged a coup in the hope of bringing about true and effective national reform after the country had been riding a political roller-coaster for 83 years.

The PM made the remarks at the Government House while leading the five major agencies in reviewing the government’s one-year performance.

He said the main objective of the announcement was to make all agencies understand the root causes of the problems facing the country and what would be their short, medium and long-term solutions. He expected all conflicts to be resolved.

The PM said he would touch on topics for the future and not those of the past, which could be handled by the justice system.

Prayut said he would like to give the public some ideas about what his government would do for the remaining one year and six months from January next year till July 2017.

He said the situation facing the country was “not normal” because of external factors. “We are being watched by international organisations. There are groups that try to distort the truth. Everyone is demanding democracy, freedom and liberty. I ask if this is possible? We have been on this path for 83 years and faced many coups. So I want true reform for the future of our children,” he said.

To achieve reform objectives, the PM said the management of all ministries must be integrated. “We need to link and integrate every ministry’s activities. I have already come up with the plan,” he said.

The six sectors that must be reformed were: security, the economy, social sector, foreign affairs, administration, law and the justice system.

The reforms he envisioned aimed to strengthen the country’s economic structure, improve human life quality through a reformed social sector, move in a proactive manner in terms of foreign affairs, and focus on a top-down management of the country’s administration. To reform the justice system, the PM wanted to improve agencies that enforced the law.

Prayut said the government had completed its first stage of reform. It had lasted one year and had been met with heavy criticism and had failed to bring about real reform. “Many countries take many years to reform and have not completed their mission. We have [held office] so far for one year – but we are asked: what have we done?” Prayut said.

He said although the country’s economic indicators showed a negative picture, it was only fair to look at other countries around us and the world economy.

He said the government had mapped out a 20-year strategic reform plan and five-year economic development plans till 2036. “New governments taking over should continue these plans to create continuity. We are taking care of 70 million people and not just people in political parties,” he said.

PM vows support for terror fight

Posted by pakin On November - 19 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

MANILA – Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is to pledge in a speech Thursday to join international efforts to fight cross-border terrorism and also vow to carry out domestic structural reform to support regional economic growth.

In a speech the prime minister is due to deliver at the 23rd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) leaders’ summit, Gen Prayut will say he is saddened about the recent attacks in Paris and pledges to cooperate with the international community to counter terrorists.

“The Royal Thai Government and the Thai people strongly condemn this heinous act and stand with the international community to fight against terrorism,” he will say.

According to an Apec source, the leaders are planning to jointly condemn the deadly Paris and Beirut attacks and the recent bomb attack on a Russian passenger jet over the Sinai, in Egypt, which killed all 224 people on board.

In the initial draft declaration, the leaders were set to denounce the Paris attacks as a threat to their economies and call for united action to fight threat.

“Terrorism threatens our vision of free, open and prosperous economies and fundamental values that we hold. We stand in solidarity with the people of France [the Beirut bombing and Russian plane blast were added later] and all victims of terrorism elsewhere.

“These atrocities demand a united voice from the global community. We reaffirm our strong collective resolve to counter terrorism,” according to the draft which will be concluded Thursday before the summit ends.

On economic issues, Gen Prayut plans to say Thailand supports economic integration and building inclusive growth in the bloc, while also welcoming the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.

However, the premier urged Apec members to speed up a free-trade agreement for the Asia-Pacific, saying all economies can achieve free trade with strong political will, in spite of being at different stages of development.

Domestically, Gen Prayut says Thailand needs to reform its economy, aiming to better support Apec economic cooperation.

“My government is committed to structural reform in all areas, with priority given to three main areas, namely anti-corruption, SMEs and social protection,” he will tell his counterparts.

To support regional economic growth, Thailand has launched several projects, including the “Thailand Plus One” economic model, special economic zones and super cluster economic zones, a new project involving high technology and modern manufacturing sectors.

The premier will also extend support for human resources development, increasing the abilities of workers, and ensuring gender equality and equal opportunities for people with disabilities.

Gen Prayut on Wednesday held talks with his Papua New Guinea counterpart Peter O’Neill on the sidelines of the leaders’ meeting.

He thanked Mr O’Neill for his country’s support as an importer of Thai rice and agreed the two countries should expand  cooperation, said Thai government deputy spokesman Maj Gen Werachon Sukondhapatipak.

Gen Prayut assured Mr O’Neill of the quality of Thai rice while the Papua New Guinea premier asked Thailand to provide experts to help his country develop rice farming. The leaders looked forward to closer cooperation on rice and fishing.

Papua New Guinea has abundant marine resources while Thailand has expertise in fishing, so cooperation in this field will benefit both countries, Maj Gen Werachon said.

The Thai premier also met Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. Gen Prayut said Bangkok sees Bogota as a key economic partner which can be a “bridge linking Thailand with other Latin American countries”, Maj Gen Werachon said.