In Thailand English-language News for May 22, 2017, Newsline presenter Cholaphansa Narula tells us about:
• Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has said he is happy with the junta’s achievements since seizing power three years ago, but has warned that there are still people who are attempting to discredit the government and tarnish its reputation, despite its achievements.
• Deputy Prime Minister for Legal Affairs, Wissanu Krea-ngam, has said that the government has no plans to raise value added tax (VAT) from the current level of 7 per cent to 8 per cent, despite the National Legislative Assembly’s (NLAs) endorsement of a report recommending the rate be increased. Mr Krea-ngam said the government had never considered raising the VAT rate.
• The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) is currently examining the draft political party law and the draft electoral commission law. Both organic laws will be tabled for their second and third readings in the House next month. The two organic laws bring the prospect of a Thailand general election closer. The next two organic laws to be tabled will be the draft national strategies act and the draft reform procedures act. A draft law on criminal procedures for political office holders is expected to be submitted to the NLA by the Constitutional Drafting Committee (CDC) by the end of this month.
• The Constitutional Drafting Committee (CDC) has advised that the 2017 Thailand Constitution requirement for a Thailand general election to be held within 150 days of all organic laws being approved does not include the announcement of the results.
• The Royal Thai Army’s (RTAs) Fourth Region command has held a meeting with the leaders of eight Islamic organisation in the southern provinces to discus security operation during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
• The Ministry of Energy (MoE) has held a meeting with related agencies to discuss contingency plans for a possible simultaneous shortage of electricity, oil, and gas between August and September this year when the Thailand-Malaysia Joint Development Area, a 7,200sq.km (about 2,780sq.mile) gas field will be closed for maintenance.
• In line with the governments small and medium size enterprise (SME) development policy the SME Bank, in conjunction with the Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation (TCGC), has launched the SME transformation programme which offers unsecured loans of up to Bt10 million (US$291,290) at 1 per cent per annum interest to owners of businesses facing financial difficulty. Loans must be repaid within seven years, with a repayment-free ‘honeymoon’ period of three years. SMEs in the agriculture, food processing, tourism and hospitality, technology, or innovation sectors are eligible to apply.
• Permanent Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office, Jirachai Moontongroy said he is satisfied with the results to date from the government’s rabies eradication programme following an inspection in Mae Chan District of Chiang Rai Province.
• Following a visit to Timor-Leste where an agreement allowing government officials of either country to visit the other visa-free was signed, Thailand Foreign Affairs Minister, Don Pramudwinai, has said the two countries are very pleased with the relationship the two have established in the fields of agriculture, public health, and tourism for the past 12 years. Timo-Leste is hopeful of being admitted to the Asean bloc this year.
• NBT World reports from Hanoi, Vietnam on the recently concluded Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) trade ministers’ meeting. A side-meeting on the long-negotiated Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free-trade agreement was also also held, with the results to be presented for discussion at the 19th round of negotiations in India in July.
• Thailand Foreign Affairs Minister, Don Pramudwinai, has opened the 4th Thailand-Pacific Island Countries Forum (TPIF) under the theme “Thailand – Pacific Island Countries: Putting Ideas to Action Towards Sustainable Development”. Delegates from 14 Pacific Island Countries attended the meeting, along with observers from Australia and New Zealand, and international organisations such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FPO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat (PIFS).
• A team of economic officials from Egypt have visited Thailand to study how the One Tambon (district), One Product (Otop) programme has contributed to Thailand’s economic development.
• and more.
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Newsline is a daily Thailand English-language news and current affairs programme produced by the National News Bureau of Thailand (NNBT) under the Thailand Government Public Relations Department (PRD) for *NBT World, the NNBTs 24/7 English language television service delivering Thailand government news and information to the Thai, Asean, and wider Asian communities via cable and satellite. It is also available via android and iOS apps. AEC News Today publishes Thailand English-language News M-F.