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June 2015 : Thailand Suffers the Most Critical Drought in 30 Years

  • Thailand suffers most critical drought
  • NLA passed 1st reading of Constitution amendment
  • Dusit Poll: People say no to legalize casinos
  • Supreme Administrative Court endorsed right to die
  • JICA loan to fund Red rail line construction
  • Entrepreneurs suffered from minimum wage
  • 7% VAT should be extended due to poor economy
  • BMA submerged after hours of rainfall

    Thailand suffers from most critical drought

    Thailand was experiencing the worst drought in the three decades in its three regions; north, northeast and central. Normally the rainy season starts in June and it is a time for seasonal rice planting. Due to the effect of El Nino, the dry season continued as well as rainfall, in the past 2-3 years, was less than average. The constantly of water discharge from dams, for consumption, agriculture and ecological balance, accelerated the rapidly decrease of reserve water countrywide until they reached the lowest level all over the country.

    Rice farmers are the most suffered from drought and on 23 June the Cabinet resolved several measures to help them. They are;
    1. Promotion of water-rotation system for seasonal rice planting.
    2. Dredging deep wells to supply water in paddy fields in 8 provinces in the central region.
    3. Asking the seasonal rice farmers to prolong their planting until the end of July.
    4. Assigning the Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation to operate rainmaking into major dams.
    5. Promotion of short cycle crops instead of rice.

    Since February, the Irrigation Department has alerted the rice farmers in Chao Phaya and Mae Klong basins about drought and shortage of water. Farmers were advised to refrain from planting off-season crop but more than 6 million rais, mostly in the irrigation area of northern and central regions, went on cultivating. This was the cause of a wrong estimation of the water reserve in 4 major dams; Bhumipol, Sirikit, Pasak Cholasith and Kwae Noi Bamrungdan, .

    Regardless to some rainfall after the rainmaking operations; the total amount of reserve in 4 major dams was only 15,000 million cubic meter which could last a supply, of overall consumption, for only 45 days, therefore, the Waterworks authorities have plead their customers to save water until the rain season starts.

    Normally in June, at least 2 storms will bring abundance of rain water but this year the storm was not only fewer and bypassed the main agricultural area to the countrys rim or pelt down in the neighboring countries. Rainfall in the north and central regions were 55% and 69% of average normal. The responsible agencies had cut down total water discharge from all dams from 54 to 35 million cubic meters daily.

    Constitution amendment passed 1st reading

    On 18 June, the National Legislation Assembly passed its first reading of the draft Constitution, amended by the Cabinet and National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), by a vote of 203 to 0 with 3 abstentions. The amendments were on:
    1. Qualifications and disqualifications of the House members; revised from had been purged from voting rights to being purged from voting right.
    2. A referendum would be held on the draft charter.
    3. The dissolution of the 250 members National Reform Council (NRC) after the referendum regardless to its approval. They would be replaced by a 200 members Reform Mobility Council.
    4. The dissolution of the 36 members Constitution Drafting council (CDC) after the referendum. If the result of the referendum is disapprove, a new 21 members would be appointed and the new draft should be completed within 6 months.

    Thais say no to legalizing casinos

    The Rajabhat University of Suan Dusit Campus conducted opinion poll during June 12-16 on how the people think about legalizing casinos. A total of 1,363 people were randomly polled.

    The poll showed 45.19% are against legalizing casinos compared to 38.665 who are supportive of the idea. 16.15% are undecided claiming that it has both advantages and disadvantages.

    The pros reasoned casinos would stimulate economic growth, tourism, and job opportunity as well as would generate enormous income to the country. The cons said casinos would increase gambling-addicts, household debt, crimes and corruptions. These are long term negative effects.

    Court endorsed the right to die

    On 18 June, the Supreme Administrative court dismissed a petition from some doctors opposing a ministerial regulation that, in effect, gives patients the right to die.

    The petition was filed against former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and then-public health minister Wittaya Buranasiri, as the regulation was passed by their administration. The regulation recognizes patients living wills, in which they can spell out their preferences for medical care at a time when they are unable to make decisions for themselves. Doctors are legally required to comply with these wills.

    The complaints were trying to make this regulation nullified, as they believe it goes against the Medical Practice Act and is unethical.

    The Supreme Court reasoned the regulation is compliance to the Constitution and other laws.

    JICA funding for mass rail transit

    On 9th June, the Cabinet approved the Finance Ministry proposal on the seeking of loan from JICA to finance the construction of Bangsue-Rangsit rail line. Funding of Baht 10,000 million would be provided at 0.4% interest and 0.2% operating cost. Loan period would be 20 years with 6 years grace period.

    Entrepreneurs suffered from minimum wage

    The Thai Chamber of Commerce and the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce disclosed a countrywide co-study on the entrepreneurs opinion on the impact of the minimum wage gathered from business, services, production and agriculture sectors. 95.4% was affected from the increase of minimum wage to Baht 300 daily due to capital cost increased, profit loss, employment reduced, illiquid, loss of competitiveness etc.

    Employees also affected regardless to their income increased and stimulation in consumer consumption. They encountered injustice of salary, cut down OT and layoff due to replacement by machines. Moreover, foreign workers also received minimum wage, too.

    However, the Labor Ministry reassured that the Baht 300 minimum wage would not be nullified and the floating wage system would not be applied.

    7% VAT should be continued

    The Revenue Department reassured the 7% VAT should be continued due to overall economy is not recovering regardless to increases of business tax, petroleum tax and VAT in June were some few billions Baht over target. The Department anticipated total business tax would be less than estimation due to the economy sluggish.

    The Commerce Ministry Trade Policy and Strategy Office disclosed in May export still decreased to USD 18,428.8 million which is 5.01% less than the same period of last year. The decrease has continued for a period of 5 months. Import also decreased at 19.97% to USD 16,012.1 million. The deficit was the highest in 5 years 9 months period since September 2009. However, trade balance was USD 2,416.8 million or Baht 71,567 million due to the recovering of global economic.

    BMA submerged- traffic standstill

    On 8 June, after a midnight rain poured down until dawn, Bangkok was submerged under flood that caused traffic stuck all over the city. Some schools were temporally closed down.

    BMA permanent secretary said the maximum rainfall, 141 millimeter at Rama 4 road, was not the major cause of flooding. Canals and waterways were blocked by large pieces of garbage; furniture, logs, trees, etc, until only 3 out of 4 water pumps in the underground tunnel could function.

    On 10 June, BMA governor M.R. Sukhumbhan Baripatra remarked the completion of another 3 underground tunnels could alleviate BMA from flooding. He commanded all responsible departments to cooperate and focus on legal enforcement and garbage collection.

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