Suvarnabhumi safe, banks to help flood victims Skip to main content

Suvarnabhumi safe, banks to help flood victims

The country's main international airport, Suvarnabhumi, is well protected by dykes and pumps, and the tourism and sports minister says the catastrophic floods upcountry have so far not hurt the tourism sector.

The 23.5-kilometre earth dyke surrounding Suvarnabhumi international airport has been checked and reinforced, among other measures taken to safeguard it from flooding, the airport's spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

Wilaiwan Nadwilai said Suvarnabhumi airport management had a flood prevention plan amd had met with representatives of  airlines, businesses and government agencies to discuss immediate steps to be taken  when the floodwaters from the North arrive in Bangkok in a few days.
Suvarnabhumi airport
The Rural Roads Department has also been asked to quickly dredge Lat Krabang canal to improve the flow of water to the south and out into the Gulf.

In the area south of Suvarnabhumi airport, the Royal Irrigation Department will drain water out to the sea as necessary.

Suvarnabhumi airport itself is surrounded by a 23.5km long, three metre-high earth dyke. It was being checked and reinforced.

Inside the area protected by the dyke there are canals to drain water into six reservoirs which can hold a total of four million cubic metres of water, she said.

There are two water pumping stations south of the airport.  Each station has four pumps which can handle 12 cubic metres of water per second, or one million cubic metres of water per day.

Ms Wilaiwan said the airport management has confidence in its preparedness to cope with any threat of flooding.

Tourism and Sports Minister Chumpol Slipa-archa on Tuesday once again said the flooding is having no real impact on the tourism sector, at least for the moment.

Mr Chumpol said he had discussed the situation with tour operators, who said foreign tourists normally travel by plane so were not affected. For example, the number of Japanese tourists visiting Thailand has not gone down.

The number of foreign tourist arrivals at Suvarnabhumi airport remained at the normal level of between 37,000 and 39,000 a day, he added.
Tourism and Sports Minister Chumpol Slipa-archa
The minister said he stood by the ministry’s earlier projection that 19 million foreign tourists will visit Thailand this year.

The cabinet on Tuesday passed a resolution that each government agency should contribute 10 per cent of its budget allocation for flood relief, Budget Bureau director Worawit Jampeerat said.

Mr Worawit said the contributions would generate several billion baht for flood relief operations.

All government agencies were required to inform the Budget Bureau of their contributions within 48 hours.

Investment projects already planned by the government would not be affected, he said.
The Budget Bureau director said the expenditure budget for fiscal 2013, with a deficit of 350 billion baht, will remain unchanged.

The Ministry of Finance has ordered special-task state-owned banks to provide financial assistance for flood victims and manufacturers, Areepong Pucha-um, permanent secretary for finance, said on Tuesday.

The assistance included a moratorium on loan replayment for  customers who have no income during the flooding, and manufacturers that had to halt operations due to flooding. The unpaid debts would be interest-free forthe time being and loan interest will resume when the debtors can afford to resume  repayment. The Ministry of Finance also directed the state banks to set aside sufficient funds to provide low interest  loans for people and manufacturers for repairing homes, industrial plant, rehabilitating businesses and for use as operating capital, he said.

The government will compensate the banks for any losses, Mr Areepong said.

The special-task banks taking part in this joining this scheme are the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank, the Government Savings Bank, the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, the Government Housing Bank, the Islamic Bank of Thailand and the Export-Import Bank of Thailand.

The Bank of Thailand said commercial banks have reported that they have temporarily closed 72 branches in flooded areas, mostly in Ayutthaya province.

The Bangkok Bank had the largest number of closed outlets, at 17, followed by Krung Thai Bank and Siam Commercial Bank (11 each), Thanachart Bank (9), Kasikornbank (7), Thai Military Bank and Bank of Ayudhya (5 each), CIMB Thai Bank (3), UOB Bank (2) and Tisco Bank and Kiatnakin Bank (1 each).

The director of the International Trade Studies Centre at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, Ath Pisalvanich, said the centre had lowered its projection of growth in exports in the fourth quarter of the year by 1.4 per cent because of the floods.

Exports growth in the fourth quarter is now expected at 17.8 per cent, down from the previous projection of 19.2 per cent, Mr Ath said.

Exports expansion for 2011 was also lowered to about 18.5 per cent, from the previously forecast of 23.3 per cent to 24.8 per cent due to the double impact of the floods and the economic crisis in Europe.

Mr Ath suggested that the government implement a “one tambon: one monkey cheek” policy to more effectively manage water resources in each province.

He also proposed the government consider imposing a flood tax on Bangkok residents because people in other provinces had to suffer flooding because of the efforts aimed at preventing the capital being submerged.

He said a preliminary estimate of the damage to the flooded industrial plants in four industrial estates in Ayutthaya put the cost at 79 billion baht.

It was estimated that the cost of combined damage to buildings, machinery and investor confidence would be around 300 to 400 billion baht. The hardest hit industries were electrical appliances, automobiles and food and beverage manufacturers, he added.


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