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March 2015 : New-born to Get Monthly allowance

  • Deprived new-born to get a Baht 400 monthly allowance
  • Court accepted Yingluck rice pledge case
  • Human trafficking Bill passed NLA
  • 38 former senate members escaped impeachment
  • Red Shirt leaders jail term over ASEAN leaders meeting disband
  • Foreign loans to fund water management projects
  • China to buy 2 million tons rice
  • PM suspended house and property tax
  • NSF to include non-formal labors
  • Activist proposed environmental tax to solve smog problems
  • A campaign to lessen the use of foam as food containers
  • Northern smog higher than standard level
  • Measures to help agriculturers
  • MNRE develops environmental application
  • Delivering water trucks to relief rural shortage
  • BMA submerged after 2 rainy days
  • Complaints mostly from air and noise pollutions

    Deprived new-born to get a Baht 400 monthly allowance

    On 31st March, the Cabinet approved Social Development and Human Security Ministry basic welfare program for infants. Newborn children of deprived families would receive monthly allowances of Baht 400 for one year starting from 1st October 2015 until 30th September 2016. The pilot project is estimated to cost approximately Baht 600 million since birth rate is constantly declining. The Finance Ministry noted the allowance should be given to a maximum of two children per family.

    Supreme Court accepted Yingluck rice pledge complaint

    On 19th March, the Supreme Courts Criminal Division of Persons Holding Political Positions panel judges resolved to accept the Attorney-General complaint against former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra over her dereliction to stop the rice pledge scheme that cause state loss of more than Baht 600 billion. The Court called its first reading on 19th May.
    Ms. Yingluck was absent when the Court decision was read.

    Human Trafficking Bill enacted

    On 26th March, the National Legislation Assembly (NLA) unanimously voted with 160 to 0 and 3 abstention to pass its third reading on the Human Trafficking Bill. The Bill will be effective upon publishing in the royal gazette.

    38 former senate members escaped impeachment

    On 12th March, the NLA voted on the impeachment of former 38 senators over their constitution amendment and did not reach 132 votes as required by the Law, therefore, the 38 former senators escaped the impeachment. Among them are some who are currently members of the NLA and National Reform Committee, therefore, they could remain in positions.

    Red Shirt leaders got jail term over ASEAN leaders meeting disbanded

    On 5th March, Pattaya Provincial Court sentenced 15 Red Shirt leaders to a 4 years jail terms, without probation, over their leading more than 1,000 followers to disband the ASEAN leaders meeting into Royal Cliff Beach Hotel Pattaya on 11th April 2009. They are Mr. Arisman Pongruangrong, Mr. Ramrueng Prachamruar, Mr. Nopporn Namchiangtai, Mr. Surachai Danwattananusorn etc.

    Foreign loan to fund water management projects

    On 17th March, the Cabinet resolved the Finance Ministry to seek foreign loans, Baht 57 billion, to fund the water management projects. The loans would be divided into Baht 23 billion for water management and Baht 34 billion for road construction.

    The resolution was in line with the previous resolutions made on 30th December 2014 and 3 March 2015 to continue the small and medium sizes projects in the regions to boost economic growth.

    China to buy 2 million tons rice

    On 11th March, Commerce Ministry Gen. Chatchai Sarakulaya and Mr. Wang Siew Tow deputy director of the Republic of China Development and Reform Committee signed an MOU on agricultural products cooperation with principle that ROC will buy 2 million tons of rice starting from 2015 to 2016. It was also specified that 1 million tons would be new seasons rice and another 1 million would be rice in the stock.

    The two countries also reached agreement on the development of rail transport infrastructure in which ROC would buy 2 billion tons of rubber.

    PM suspended land and house tax

    On 12th March, Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha decided to suspend the land and house taxation program and ordered the responsible agency to find alternative measures not strongly impact the people due to the current economic problem.

    Non-formal workers included in NSF program

    On 3rd March, the Cabinet resolved the Finance Ministry proposal to include non-formal workers in the National Saving Fund (NSF) program so they would be entitled to retirement pensions.

    Activist proposed environment tax to solve smog problems

    A lecturer to the Engineering Faculty Chiangmai University Asst. Prof. Pun Thieng Buranatham proposed that the government should use environmental tax, imposing on products relevant to contract farming, to solve smog problems in the north. However, he admitted not having information on the relevancy of smog and business sector.

    A campaign to lessen the use of foam for food containers

    The Department of Health in cooperation with 14 private organizations launched a campaign to ban the use of polystyrene foam for food containers. The campaign would focus on 3 strategies;
    1. Designation of polystyrene foam free areas.
    2. Promote the use of organic substances such as lotus, banana leaves etc.
    3. Completely ban of foam.

    Polystyrene foam containers was widely used for both food and beverages due to they are inexpensive, lightweight and convenient but as the material was made from chemical substance, the use must be extremely caution particularly when contain hot food and liquid.

    Northern smog over standard level

    On 28th February, smog crisis in northern region became critical after dust particles in the air had exceeded the standard level. According to two research, Mapping of Outdoor Burning in Chiangrai Risk Areas and A Study on Factors Impacted Decisions of Maize Cultivation of Highlanders in Vavee Sub-district Chiangrai Province, 50 -70 percent of smog was caused from wood fire and burning of dried agricultural leftover. The rest was from vehicles, industrial sector and from neighboring countries.

    From 2007 to 2009, maize growing in Chiangrai increased 29 percent and cultivation area extended from a total of 467,655 to 671,443 rais. Until now, the area is still enlarging and March is the most critical time of the year since planters have to clear fields for new crops. The agricultural burning could spread fire to the dried accumulated leaves in the adjacent deciduous forest. Normally between Januarys to April is a period when natural climate; i.e. relative humidity, transpiration, rainfall and wind reinforce the burning and impeding the dispersal of dust particles.

    Chiangrai comprises of 3,571,719 rais of preservtion forest and 1,128,839 rais of national park which is 49 and 15.59 percent of its total area respectively. Settlements are scattered over the province and hundreds are in the preserved area. The province has only 4 fire control stations in which service capacity cover only 30.26 percent of the woodland.

    In 2012, the cabinet resolution banned outdoor burning but it was ineffective on its contradiction to the local ways-of-living and the increasing needs of agricultural land. Thus forest encroachment and slash-and-burn farming are inevitable.

    Former Chiangrai senate member Thuanchai Dee-ted recommended the watershed mountainous highland should be designated into preservation area and single crop farming must be banned from this area. Moreover, an agricultural zoning; single crop, economic crops etc. is a mean to secure ecological sustainability, and economic crop farming must be totally banned in conservation zones. Study research of crops suitable for each geography area must be promoted as well as legal amendment to allow people to live harmoniously in forest and woodland.

    Measures to alleviate agriculturers

    As a result from water in dams and reservoirs countrywide reduced to lowest levels ever in the 15 years, more than 1 million rais of off-season rice farming was badly affected from shortage of water. The farmers not only suffered from the loss of crop but paddy rice prices were declining due to enormous stock supply from the rice pledge scheme. The government has initiated several measures to help the agriculturers; compensation of Baht 1,000 per rai to rice farms and rubber planters, providing loans to rice mills and agricultural institutes so they could increase stocks etc. but all hardly enable to revitalize the situations or install confidence.

    The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry has launched temporary employment program to dredge up irrigation canals in the draught effected areas. More than 36,000 workers which are 85 percent of total agricultural workforce have been hired and the work reached 50 percent of accomplishment. It is expected that the program would end on March 2015.

    Another economic stimulation program is to allow 3,051 sub-districts in 58 draught affected provinces to submit plans to create temporary jobs or solving water shortage. Upon approval, each sib-district would get a Baht 1 million budget for implementation. The plans must be in line with the management of community water sources and infrastructure that create or prevent loss of agricultural production and processing.

    The government expected to spend 60-70 percent of the total budget by March ends and every project should end within July.

    The dry season started since October 2014 and estimated to cause a total loss of Baht 5,835 million, mostly, baht 5,356 million incurred from shortage of water in 1.14 million rais paddy fields. It was estimated that these fields could yield 642,686 tons of rice. Losses are also from 58,160 rais or 326,153 tons from dry crops which is equivalent to Baht 479.19 million, and orchard crops Baht 30,000.

    MNRE develop environmental application

    The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) set up an information technology network to handle environmental crisis by developing mobile applications to boost capability and provide easy and real time access to natural and environmental information. They included on-shore and off-shore resources, air quality countrywide, environmental friendly goods and services and EIA reports. Individuals and agencies can archive the information or notify/put complaints through mobile devices.

    Delivering water trucks to relief rural shortage

    The Department of Rural Highway is providing trucks to transport water to those in needing countrywide and people could call for help via hotline 1146 or at the agency provincial and rural offices.

    BMA submerged after 2 heavy rains

    On 24th March, after a heavy rainfall, some areas in Bangkok Metropolitan went submerged and the flood caused traffic jam all over the city. The day later, on 25th another heavy rain hit again and this time not only people and vehicles were stuck on the streets but also planes were delayed from taking off and landing in airports.

    Several provinces in the north, northeastern and eastern regions also hit by heavy rainfalls and thunderstorms in the same days.

    Complaints mostly from air and noise pollutions

    In 2014, the Pollution Control Department Natural Resources and Environment Ministry received a total of 6,026 complaints and 2,475 cases or 41 percent were on air pollution; odors, dust and air particles, smog etc. 2,331 cases or 38 percent were on noises and vibrations from factories and 500 cases were on solid and hazardous waste which many of them were caused by accidents. Lastly, almost 20 cases were on leakages of fuel oil and chemical substances.
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