Friday, November 4, 2011

Urgent govt recovery plans demanded

THE NATION November 4, 2011 3:09 am
Urgent govt recovery plans demanded

Local business associations have urged the government to launch rehabilitation packages without delay to restore the country after the massive flood.

The Thai Retailers Association yesterday called on the government to accelerate its rehabilitation plan, which should be conducted by the end of this month, with two key campaigns - "Thailand Shopping Destination" to stimulate foreign tourist arrivals and "Cheque Chuay Chart" to promote domestic consumption.

Busaba Chirathivat, president of the Thai Retailers Association, said the flooding situation was expected to improve significantly next month. However, the disaster has caused billions of baht in damage to the retail sector in the areas of products, logistics and distribution, labour, buildings and assets.

"The government should urgently launch the rehabilitation plan before Thailand loses trade and investment opportunities to |neighbouring countries," Busaba said.

She said the flood water was expected to be drained by the second or third week of this month, and the rehabilitation plans should be executed by early December.

"The government should revise its tax structure to benefit the prices of products to promote Thailand as a major shopping destination in competition with other shopping markets in the region, such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.

"Shopping is a key mechanism to drive consumption."

She added that previously successful campaigns such as "Cheque Chuay Chart", a cheque-handout scheme, could be used again to stimulate domestic consumption.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Thai Capital Market Organisations (FeTCO) will propose to the government a plan to restore capital-market confidence.

FeTCO president Paiboon Nalinthrangkurn said it was urging members, including the Association of Investment Management Companies, the Association of Securities Companies and the Thai Listed Companies Association, to help formulate long-term plans to restore foreign investors' confidence after the flood disaster. These plans, expected next week, will be combined by FeTCO into one, which will be forwarded to the government. Domestic and foreign investors are waiting to see the long-term direction for the country's rehabilitation, he said.

He conceded that Thailand's floods and the European debt crisis weighed on investment sentiment in the Stock Exchange of Thailand.

"[We] believe that investors have accepted the flooding situation. Now, they are concerned whether the economy will recover next year," Paiboon said.

"It also depends on the government. Japan suffered a tsunami disaster and has taken a short while to restore confidence. The government has to see this through, as all are affected."

Tisco Securities, of which Paiboon is chief executive officer, has lowered this year's target for the SET Index to 1,000 points from 1,180 |on the increasing impacts from |the floods, he said. The brokerage house also slashed Thailand's 2011 economic growth estimate to 2.9 per cent from the previous forecast of 4 per cent.

The Real Estate Information Centre (REIC) said spreading flood waters had now damaged up to 700,000 residential units in Bangkok and its suburbs, an increase from the 400,000 homes found destroyed last week.

Of the damaged houses, property firms developed 100,000 units, while the remainder were designed and built by individual owners.

According to the REIC, the property market this year will drop by 10-20 per cent on average. In addition, it said that the registration of new residences in Bangkok and its suburbs would drop by 15-25 per cent from last year's 107,000 units to between 80,000 and 90,000 units this year.
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