Taiwanese actress who claimed extortion caught in lie on camera

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Taiwanese actress who claimed extortion caught in lie on camera

Taiwanese actress who claimed extortion caught in lie on camera

SUNDAY, JANUARY 29, 2023

Security camera footage from several locations in Bangkok shows the Taiwanese actress who claims Thai police extorted 27,000 baht from her after placing a vaping device in her hand using one before and after she was stopped at a checkpoint in the early hours of January 5.

The actress, Charlene An, alleged on Taiwanese social media that she was forced to pay 27,000 baht to Thai police officers after they stopped a taxi she and her friends were travelling in at a checkpoint near the Chinese embassy at about 1 am on January 5.

The actress told Taiwanese media that Thai police put a vaping device into her hand and that she did not know what it was.

She alleged that she was charged with having an illegal e-cigarette device in her possession. Police subsequently took her into an alley and extorted 27,000 from her, she claimed. The actress also alleged she and her friends had been detained for two hours.

Nation TV obtained footage from a security camera of a condo building where An stayed in Bangkok. Nation TV said the clip showed the actress smoking on a vaping device near the condo’s swimming pool on January 31 at 1.55 pm.

Footage from a security camera on the 11th floor of the condo building also showed her holding a vaping device while she was using her smartphone.

Nation TV also obtained a clip from a security camera near Huay Kwan market at 3.46am on January 5 – after she and friends were driven by taxi from the police checkpoint.

The clip, taken in front of the market, showed her holding a vaping device in her left hand.

Taiwanese actress who claimed extortion caught in lie on cameraIf police had charged her with having a vaping device in her possession, it would have been seized as evidence, police said. If it was not seized, any police officers who charged her with possession of the illegal device would be in dereliction of duty, police said.

Nation TV also reported clips of security camera footage showing An holding a vaping device in her left hand while she was using an elevator of the condo at 3.59pm on January 4. She was also seen smoking from the device at 4.02pm in front of her room.

Taiwanese actress who claimed extortion caught in lie on cameraShe was also caught on camera holding the device in her left hand when leaving the room at 11.45pm on January 4.

Channel 7 has posted a video clip compiled from security cameras around the Chinese Embassy that shows An and her friends being detained by police at the checkpoint for 47 minutes – not the two hours she claimed.

No footage showed any member of her group being led into an alley by police, Channel 7 added.

An alleged police led her to a spot that was outside of the range of CCTV cameras to extort money from her.

Metropolitan Police Division 1 commander Maj-General Attaporn Wongsiripreeda said he had assigned his subordinate to gather footage to examine from security cameras along the route An travelled before and after being stopped.

Taiwanese actress who claimed extortion caught in lie on cameraPolice cannot stop An from attacking them, but they will gather enough compelling scientific evidence to get to the truth, Attaporn said.

Police are also trying to identify the three men traveling with An in the taxi so that they can be questioned, Attaporn said.

Fewer smokers, surging taxes hitting Thai tobacco industry hard

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Fewer smokers, surging taxes hitting Thai tobacco industry hard

Fewer smokers, surging taxes hitting Thai tobacco industry hard

MONDAY, JANUARY 30, 2023

The Tobacco Curers Development Association is calling on the Tobacco Authority of Thailand (TOAT) and the Finance Ministry to review the current tax structure as the dual cigarette tax rates is affecting them financially.

TOAT recently announced that it was earmarking 56.16 billion baht to provide a 50% subsidy for production to tobacco farmers and independent tobacco curers.

Arun Pothita, secretary-general of Chiang Mai’s TOAT branch and a representative of an alliance of tobacco farmers in Thailand, said farmers under contract with TOAT are aware that the agency’s earnings are also affected by the tax structure.

Since TOAT’s profits have taken a downturn, it has been buying 50 to 60% less tobacco from farmers for the past five years, which has dropped farmers’ income by 900 million baht annually. Hence, Arun said, farmers have had to depend on support from the government’s central budget.

The new tax structure has limited TOAT to just covering half of the increased production cost for tobacco farmers, while the farmers are hoping that the other half of the subsidy will be allocated from the central budget, Arun added.

“But we are not sure when the farmers will get this other half of the subsidy,” he said.

He added that over the past five years, the government has implemented dual rates to cigarette tax and increased the rate twice, resulting a dramatic surge in cigarette prices.

“There is a price competition between imported cigarettes and TOAT cigarettes. They are priced at between 66 and 70 baht per pack.”

TOAT said the sale of cigarettes has been dropping now that people are kicking the habit, which has resulted in a large stockpile of tobacco. This is also forcing TOAT to cut down on the amount it purchases from farmers.

“If the government reviewed the cigarette tax structure based on the August 2021 Cabinet resolution to not increase the tax, the TOAT would have been able to resume stable sales and profits, as well as supported farmers without interfering with or burdening the central budget,” he said.

The tobacco industry has contracted significantly since the restructuring of the tobacco excise tax in 2017, during which the dual tobacco tax rate, which includes a 10% domestic tax, was adopted.

Tobacco tax revenue collected by the government dropped from 6.8 billion baht in 2019 to 5.9 billion baht in 2022.

This brought TOAT’s profits down by more than 98%, from 9 billion baht in 2017 to about 100 million baht in 2022.

During the 20th academic conference on tobacco and its impact on national health held recently, a senior official said the Finance Ministry has been encouraging tobacco farmers to grow alternative crops to boost their earnings.

The conference covered the hazardous impact of e-cigarettes and was jointly held by the Medical Association of Thailand, the Tobacco Control Research and Knowledge Management Centre (TRC) and the Thai Health Promotion Foundation.

Damrongsak Wan-aeloh, director of the Excise Standard and Collection Division 2, told the conference that the Finance Ministry has measures for compensating for the reduction in income for tobacco farmers due to the new tax structure, which resulted in a lower purchasing quota by the TOAT.

He said the ministry has been helping farmers and has set up a committee to launch campaigns urging tobacco farmers to switch to other plants like corn, onion or fruit.

Damrongsak said the committee also encouraged tobacco farmers to plant potatoes that can generate the same amount of money as tobacco.

“But some farmers harbour a die-hard belief that the tobacco purchase quota will return to the same as in the past, so they refuse to find alternative ways of earning income,” Damrongsak explained.

He added that tobacco was not on the list of cash crops, so the government agencies in charge of agricultural promotion often ignore tobacco farmers and do not seek funds to help them.

Damrongsak called on agencies in charge of agricultural promotion to start playing a bigger role in changing tobacco farmers’ attitude and getting them to grow other cash crops.

Conflict over battery-plant incentive ‘threatens’ Thailand’s EV competitiveness

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https://www.nationthailand.com/thailand/economy/40024451

Conflict over battery-plant incentive 'threatens' Thailand’s EV competitiveness

Conflict over battery-plant incentive ‘threatens’ Thailand’s EV competitiveness

MONDAY, JANUARY 30, 2023

A measure to support production of electric vehicle (EV) batteries in Thailand has been delayed by a conflict between the finance and industry ministries, the EV board complained on Monday.

It said the measure – which features incentives for setting up EV battery plants – is as important in building Thailand’s EV industry as tax privileges and subsidies for EV imports.

“The measure to promote EV battery manufacturers to set up factories in Thailand should have been launched in October last year, but no progress has been made,” the EV board said.

The delay came after the Industry Ministry insisted EV battery manufacturers set up factories in Thailand before receiving support from the government.

The Finance Ministry wants the measure to be similar to other EV incentives, such as tax discounts and subsidies on importing EV batteries.

“The Finance Ministry’s idea aims to reduce the battery price and boost demand for EVs in Thailand since the battery price accounts for 50% of the whole EV,” the EV board said.

However, it said the Finance Ministry’s idea was that EV battery manufacturers who set up factories in Thailand must produce double the amount of imported batteries within two years, and three times the number within four years.

The EV board said more than 37,000 EVs were booked as of January this year.

It warned that Thailand could lose the opportunity to penetrate the EV market if the country is slower in gearing up production than rivals such as Indonesia.

Thailand’s unemployment rate drops to 1.2% as of November, statistics show

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https://www.nationthailand.com/thailand/economy/40024435

Thailand’s unemployment rate drops to 1.2% as of November, statistics show

Thailand’s unemployment rate drops to 1.2% as of November, statistics show

SUNDAY, JANUARY 29, 2023

A new census conducted by the National Statistical Office shows that the number of unemployed persons in Thailand has dropped by 95,000, with 620,000 new people entering the workforce.

Traisulee Traisoranakul, deputy government spokesperson, said on Sunday that statistics show that 39.82 million Thais were gainfully employed as of November last year, up by 620,000 from October.

She said the census found that Thailand has 58.73 million nationals who are at least 15 years old, and 40.36 million are at employment age. Of them 39.82 million are employed and 460,000 are not. She said 18.37 million are outside the workforce, including housewives, students, and seniors.

According to statistics, of the 39.82 million Thais employed, 12.34 million are in the agricultural sector and 27.48 million in non-agricultural sectors, including industry, commerce and service.

The figures can be further broken down based on work hours per week:

• At least 50 hours per week: 6.67 million people (5.95 million in October)

• 35-49 hours per week: 26.90 million (26.69 million in October)

• Fewer than 35 hours per week: 6.25 million (6.53 million in October)

Traisulee said the increase in people employed for more than 35 hours a week shows that there is more employment security and income.

She added that the number of unemployed people in November dropped by 95,000 persons in October to 4.65 million in November, while the unemployment rate dropped from 1.4% to 1.2%.

Thailand’s unemployment rate drops to 1.2% as of November, statistics showShe quoted Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as saying that this was a clear sign of economic recovery, especially since the rate of unemployment had dropped to 1.2%, close to the pre-pandemic level of 0.9%.

Finance Ministry raises 2023 growth forecast to 3.8%

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https://www.nationthailand.com/thailand/economy/40024389

Finance Ministry raises 2023 growth forecast to 3.8%

Finance Ministry raises 2023 growth forecast to 3.8%

FRIDAY, JANUARY 27, 2023

The Finance Ministry on Friday raised the growth forecast for Thailand this year from 3% to 3.8%, citing a near 150% year-on-year rise in tourist arrivals as well as higher than expected domestic consumption as the main factors.

Declining fuel prices and weakening demand in key export markets, however, will help offset inflationary pressure, said Pornchai Thiraveja, the ministry’s spokesperson and director of its Fiscal Policy Committee.

He said the surge in tourists will primarily be from other Asian countries.

“This year, 27.5 million foreign tourists are expected to visit Thailand, up 147% year on year,” Pornchai said.

Exports, however, are expected to increase just 0.4% due to declining demand in key markets, he said.

He forecast that trade would see a surplus of US$3.1 billion this year, equivalent to about 0.5% of the country’s gross domestic product.

Private consumption and investment are forecast to expand by 3.5% and 3.6%, respectively, due to rising incomes and greater confidence in the domestic economy, he said.

Economic slowdowns and financial market volatility among trading partners, especially the United States and European Union, would negatively impact Thailand’s economy, he said.

“Geopolitical risks across the region will affect Thailand’s security and production,” Pornchai added.

Thailand’s economy will also be affected by China’s economic growth, following the relaxation of its zero-Covid policy, he said.

“Fiscal policy still has an important role for mitigating the impact of various crises and supporting economic expansion,” Pornchai said.

Related stories:

Thailand hikes key interest rate by 25 basis points

2023 Thailand’s Economic Outlook

Arkhom says rising baht a measure of foreign confidence in Thai economy

Thailand’s SCB expects two more policy rate hikes to 2%

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https://www.nationthailand.com/thailand/economy/40024356

Thailand’s SCB expects two more policy rate hikes to 2%

Thailand’s SCB expects two more policy rate hikes to 2%

THURSDAY, JANUARY 26, 2023

Siam Commercial Bank (SCB)’s research arm predicts the Bank of Thailand will raise the policy rate twice by 0.25 points to 2% this year.

The SCB’s Economic Intelligence Centre (EIC) issued the forecast on Thursday, a day after the Monetary Policy Committee raised the rate by 0.25 points to 1.5%.

The EIC said it expected two more hikes, in March and May.

It also forecast Thai GDP growth of 3.4% this year driven by tourism, consumption and spending by the private sector. It cited the return of Chinese tourists after Beijing eased travel restrictions sooner than expected. The tourism revival would lead to increased consumption and spending, it added.

But the EIC warned that growth of the Thai export sector would be sluggish following contraction in three successive months up to December 2022 due to the global economic slowdown.

Thai exports would also come under pressure from new import taxes imposed by Europe and India, which are key trading partners, it added.

The headwinds would see Thai export growth of only 1.2% growth this year, the EIC said.

It predicts Thailand’s headline inflation will drop from 6.1% last year to 3.2% this year, still above the central bank’s 1-3% target. Inflation would exceed the target due to high energy and food prices.

It forecast core inflation would rise from 2.5% last year to 2.7% this year.

The EIC’s currency prediction has the baht rallying to between 31.5 and 32.5 against the US dollar by the end of this year. The Thai currency has risen 5.6% against the greenback since the start of the year.

Capital investment up by THB200m in 2022, but nearly 22,000 businesses fold up

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Capital investment up by THB200m in 2022, but nearly 22,000 businesses fold up

Capital investment up by THB200m in 2022, but nearly 22,000 businesses fold up

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 25, 2023

As many as 21,880 businesses with a total registered capital of 127.04 billion baht ceased operations in 2022, the Department of Business Development said on Wednesday.

“This is in line with liquidation trends in the past five years,” said Thosapone Dansuputra, the department’s director-general.

The top three types of businesses going into liquidation were: 2,012 general building construction enterprises, which accounted for 9% of total enterprises that went into liquidation, followed by 1,023 real estate firms (5%), and 623 restaurant businesses (3%).

Businesses with less than 1 million baht capital accounted for 71.52%, or 15,649 businesses. It was followed by 5,200 businesses with capital of 1-5 million baht (23.77%); 916 businesses with 5-100 million baht capital (4.19%), and 115 businesses exceeding 100 million baht capital (0.53%).

In 2022, 76,488 new businesses were established across the country, 3,530 — or 5% — more than in 2021.

The top three businesses were general construction (7,061), accounting for 9%; real estate (4,833), accounting for 6%; and restaurant (3,014) accounting for 4%.

Total capital investment of newly established business was 429.82 billion baht in 2022, up 200.02 billion baht, — 87.04% — over 2021.

Of the newly established businesses, 52,674 (68.84%) have capital of less than 1 million baht; 22,583 businesses (29.52%) have capital in the range of 1-5 million baht; 1,014 businesses (1.33%) have capital of 5-100 million baht; and 217 businesses (0.28%) have capital of over 100 million baht.

Capital investment up by THB200m in 2022, but nearly 22,000 businesses fold up

As many as 850,480 businesses with a total capital of 21.19 trillion baht are operating in Thailand, as of December 2022.

Of the total, 200,437 — 23.57% — were limited partnership and registered ordinary partnership; 648,661 — 76.27% — were limited companies; and 1,382 — 0.16% — were public limited companies.

Meanwhile, 499,669 businesses — 58.75% — have less than 1 million baht in capital, followed by 257,061 businesses (30.22%) with 1-5 million baht capital, 76,340 businesses (8.98%) with 5-100 million baht capital, and 17,410 businesses (2.05%) with more than 100 million baht.

Related Stories: 

Despite global slowdown, Asia’s economies show resilience and growth for 2023

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Despite global slowdown, Asia's economies show resilience and growth for 2023

Despite global slowdown, Asia’s economies show resilience and growth for 2023

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 25, 2023

Asia can defy a global economic slowdown in 2023 through an acceleration in digital transformation, greater regional coordination, and balanced monetary policies, according to new research from the London-based think tank, Asia House. 

The Asia House Annual Outlook 2023 examines how Asia’s economies can prevail and deliver robust growth through increased domestic demand for goods and services, countering the global headwinds of high inflation, tighter monetary policy and increasing geopolitical tensions.  

Key among the Annual Outlook’s recommendations are those relating to prioritising innovation – to spur carbon pricing, lower green premiums for zero-carbon alternatives, and boost underfunded and high-impact projects with blended finance.

‘Asia is likely to prove resilient if investment and financial flows are directed to digital and green innovation to underpin sustainable growth and investment,’ the Annual Outlook finds.

However, and mirroring the global outlook, Asia is susceptible to risk and faces multiple and multi-faceted shocks, such as energy-price volatility, geopolitical conflict, and higher borrowing costs.  

Asia House assessed eight key economies in Asia across metrics conducive to meeting these challenges. In two indices published today, the think tank analyses the performance of China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam in the critical areas of green finance and digitalisation readiness – areas that will unlock future productivity and enable sustainable growth across the continent.

Asia House’s Economic Readiness Indices suggest that prioritising economic readiness to tackle both climate change and digitalisation, and the policies that link the two, will create higher growth.

China will see increased growth – albeit sluggish – having abandoned its zero-Covid policies.  It also shows an improvement in its scores for economic readiness for green finance.

India will see continued economic recovery and is on track to be one of the fastest-growing economies globally. However, the country is susceptible to financial volatility and it has the lowest readings in readiness for both green finance and digitalisation.

Japan is likely to bear the brunt of multiple financial shocks, including a weak yen and higher energy prices – both of which reduced its Readiness Index for green finance. Japan’s digital readiness scores improved for 2023.

Vietnam is likely to register one of the strongest economic growth rates in 2023, owing in part to its vibrant external sector and domestic policy settings that will catalyse inward investment.

Malaysia is making significant strides, underpinned by the strength of domestic demand and digitalisation.

Thailand‘s economic readiness readings for green finance registered the largest rise according to Asia House.

Indonesia will show economic resilience in 2023. It has struck the right balance in monetary policy in terms of encouraging growth while taming inflation.

The Philippines is likely to grow, which presents an opportunity for the country’s policymakers to improve the domestic ecosystem for green finance and digitalisation.

Asia House comment

Michael Lawrence, Chief Executive of Asia House: “Against the backdrop of a weak global economic outlook for 2023, Asia’s economies may defy the trend and deliver robust growth despite the challenges of high inflation, rising interest rates, fuel price volatility and geopolitical tensions.

“The Asia House Annual Outlook is published to give key insights into the region’s economies and increase understanding of the opportunities and obstacles in Asia in an increasingly unpredictable and turbulent world”.

Phyllis Papadavid, Director of Research and Advisory, Asia House: “Our outlook indicates that Asia’s growth prospects continue to hinge on an acceleration in digital transformation, greater regional coordination, and striking the right balance in broader monetary policy across the region.

“Furthermore, the Asia House Economic Readiness Indices suggest that prioritising economic readiness for both climate change and digitalisation, and the policies that link the two, will be essential for Asia’s higher growth trajectory.”       

Policy recommendations

Drawing on the Indices, the Asia House Annual Outlook 2023 report includes several recommendations for policymakers across Asia.

Scaled-up regional coordination in Asia is necessary to bolster economic integration further, particularly in the form of expanded economic zones and investment corridors.

Enhanced and coordinated reserve management is needed at a time when Asia’s reserves are declining.

By adopting carbon-pricing mechanisms, the ‘green-premium’, or the additional costs of opting for green technology, will be reduced.
The leveraging of private investment and risk absorption will support scaled-up sustainable finance.

Innovations in blended finance – using development funds to spur private investment – need to funnel capital into high-impact and under-capitalised green projects.

Asia’s broader digital access and digital skills, particularly in the rural sectors in its larger economies, is a policy gap. 

Thai exports fell for third successive month in December

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Thai exports fell for third successive month in December

Thai exports fell for third successive month in December

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 25, 2023

Thai exports fell for a third consecutive month in December but the 2022 total rose 5.5% year on year to US$287.06 billion (9.406 trillion baht), according to the Commerce Ministry.

Total imports last year rose 13.6%, leading to a trade deficit of $16.122 billion (528.56 billion baht).

December saw exports contract 14.6% year on year while imports shrank 12%, generating a trade deficit of US$1.03 billion (33.85 billion baht).

December’s export contraction was driven by industrial products (down 15.7%), agricultural products (down 11.6%), and agro-industrial products (down 10.8%).

Thai export markets that saw the biggest expansion in 2022 were the Middle East, United Kingdom, Canada, United States, CLMV, other Asean countries and South Asia.

Thai export growth last year was led by sugar, telephones, gems and jewellery, vegetable/animal fats and oil, transformers and components, semiconductors, and processed chicken.

The Commerce Ministry has targeted a 1-2% export expansion in 2023, lower than the 4% targeted in 2022. It said the lower target was due to the stagnating global economy, baht strengthening, rising fuel prices, and manufacturing costs.

Export expansion this year would be driven by the reopening of border checkpoints, increasing global food demand, and easing of global logistics problems including the container shortage, it added.

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Surge in rice exports puts Thailand on track to becoming 2nd largest global supplier

Thai vehicle exports in December highest in 45 months

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Thai vehicle exports in December highest in 45 months

Thai vehicle exports in December highest in 45 months

TUESDAY, JANUARY 24, 2023

Thailand exported 111,605 vehicles in December, the highest in 45 consecutive months, the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) said.

Surapong Paisitpatnapong, FTI deputy chairman, said on Tuesday that the export of fully assembled units in December rose 10.17% from the same month in 2021.

During 2021, Thailand exported 1,000,256 completely built unit (CBU) vehicles, marking a 4.28% increase from the previous year, Surapong added.

He said exports to Asia, Middle East, Africa, Central and South America showed a definite increase. However, he said, exporters were still suffering from a drop in the availability of shipping liners.Thai vehicle exports in December highest in 45 months

He added that 158,606 vehicles were manufactured in December, up 2.75% from the same month in 2021.

Automakers were able to produce more vehicles because the supply of semiconductor parts has picked up.

In 2022, 1,883,515 vehicles were manufactured in Thailand, marking an increase of 11.73% year-on-year, Surapong added.

He said 82,799 vehicles were sold domestically in December, down 9.02% from the same month in 2021.

Thai vehicle exports in December highest in 45 monthsThe FTI believes 1.95 million vehicles will be manufactured this year – 1.05 million for export and 900,000 for local consumption.