Minister pushing for legalisation of vaping devices

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Minister pushing for legalisation of vaping devices

Minister pushing for legalisation of vaping devices

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 02, 2023

The government should legalise vaping devices in order to eliminate smuggling of the devices into Thailand and extortion related to their use, Digital Economy and Society Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn said on Thursday.

His comment follows rising public confusion about the devices after Bangkok police allegedly took a bribe from a group that included a Taiwanese actress after finding they had vaping devices.

Two police captains and five sergeants from Huay Kwang station are facing disciplinary and criminal charges after detaining actress Charlene An for carrying a vaping device on January 5 and then letting her go in exchange for 27,000 baht.

Former politician and massage parlour tycoon turned whistleblower Chuwit Kamolvisit asked on his Facebook page on Wednesday why vaping devices are still illegal in Thailand even though cannabis was legalised in June of last year.

Chaiwut said vaping devices are used daily by some Thais and are legal in many countries, including the US, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore.

Making vaping devices illegal in Thailand resulted in smuggling for sales both offline and online, as well as extortion, he said.

“We should legalise vaping devices,” he said, adding that the government can generate revenue from taxing them.

Chaiwut, who is also deputy leader of the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), said he would push for vaping device legalisation as part of the party’s platform in the upcoming general election.

“If PPRP is allowed to set up the government again, we will legalise vaping devices,” he said.

Chaiwut said that 12 online lottery platforms had been shut for overpricing so far, but some lottery platform operators were still opposing government regulations. He expects the court to rule on the remaining operators soon.

“It is up to the police and Department of Special Investigation to collect evidence as lottery platform operators may be involved in other issues, such as money laundering,” he said.

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Thai National Police chief apologises for the ‘bad 7’ in Taiwanese actress case

Thailand to finalise draft for FTA talks with EU this month

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Thailand to finalise draft for FTA talks with EU this month

Thailand to finalise draft for FTA talks with EU this month

TUESDAY, JANUARY 31, 2023

Nongluck Ajanapanya

Thailand has announced plans to relaunch official free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with the European Union (EU) this year, the Department of Trade Negotiations (DTN) said.

It also plans to accelerate the completion of four other FTAs within the first quarter of next year.

Auramon Supthaweethum, the department’s director-general, outlined the DTN’s timeline for this year at a press briefing on Tuesday.

She said the department will complete its first draft of the EU negotiation plan in the next two weeks and submit it to the Cabinet. Once the draft is approved, the department will have the authority to begin formal negotiations.

“The EU FTA will give Thailand’s private sector a competitive edge in investing and negotiating trade in the 27 EU countries, while also allowing European businesses to use Thailand as a production base to export to more countries,” Auramon said.

She revealed that the main topics on the agenda will include intellectual property protection, trade regulations and cross-border tax and customs.

FTA talks with the EU were put on hold after the 2014 coup because it was against the military takeover.

According to DTN, the EU is Thailand’s fifth largest trading partner after Asean, China, the United States and Japan.

Trade with the EU totalled US$41 billion in 2022, up 2.9% from the previous year, accounting for 7% of Thailand’s trade with the rest of the world.

Auramon also said that DTN plans to accelerate the conclusion of four pending FTA negotiations with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Canada, Turkey, and Sri Lanka by 2024.

“We intend to meet every two to three months so both parties can work closely together to overcome any obstacles,” she said.

Furthermore, in order to boost Thailand’s competitiveness, the department plans to continue researching the benefits and effects of FTAs with new trade partners, namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, as well as African countries.

Thailand currently has 14 FTAs with 18 countries, the most recent of which was the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Thailand’s trade with the 18 FTA countries came in at more than $359 billion in 2022, up 5.1% from the previous year. Automobiles, automobile accessories and parts, plastic beads, gems and jewellery, computers and electronic parts are Thailand’s key export products.

Thailand mulls tighter regulations for possession of amphetamine

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Thailand mulls tighter regulations for possession of amphetamine

Thailand mulls tighter regulations for possession of amphetamine

MONDAY, JANUARY 30, 2023

The Public Health Ministry is preparing a revised ministerial regulation on the possession of amphetamine tablets for the Cabinet to review.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Monday that the draft regulation stipulates that a person caught with one tablet of amphetamine will be considered an addict, while one with two or more tablets will be considered a dealer.

Anutin said the regulation is being prepared by a committee reviewing rehabilitation for drug addicts that he chairs.

The draft ministerial regulation aims to deal with drug dealers who take advantage of current regulations’ loopholes, he said. The regulation stipulates that a person caught with no more than five amphetamine tablets will be considered a drug addict.

Asked if the amendment will help end the scourge of drugs in Thailand, Anutin said related agencies have discussed this issue a great deal, especially the impact drugs have on children, families and society.

Anutin CharnvirakulAnutin Charnvirakul

“The reason [behind proposing the draft ministerial regulation] is that we need strict measures and prove that legal procedures are effective,” he said, adding that there is no space in prisons to detain people involved in narcotics-related crimes.

He said the police are responsible for legal procedures, while the Public Health Ministry will seek funds for rehabilitating drug addicts.

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Three more smart piers to be opened in 2023, as part of 29 planned by 2025

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Three more smart piers to be opened in 2023, as part of 29 planned by 2025

Three more smart piers to be opened in 2023, as part of 29 planned by 2025

MONDAY, JANUARY 30, 2023

Three more smart piers will be opened by this year, namely Rama VII, Tha Tien and Kiakkai, deputy government spokesperson Tipanan Sirichana said on Monday.

She said the project to build 29 smart piers across Greater Bangkok at a total cost of 942 million baht aims to facilitate travel and tourism.

She added that this project is in line with the government’s 20-year national strategy, which aims to make Thailand a developed country with security, prosperity and sustainability without leaving anyone behind.

Tipanan SirichanaTipanan Sirichana

“Six smart piers were opened between 2019 and 2021, namely Marine Department, Saphan Phut, Nonthaburi, Tha Chang, Sathorn and Payap,” she said.

She added that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had presided over the opening ceremony of two smart piers on December 23 last year, namely Rajinee and Bang Pho.

Three more smart piers to be opened in 2023, as part of 29 planned by 2025

She expects the remaining 18 smart piers, namely Rama V, Phra Pinklao, Pak Kret, Si Phraya, Kheaw Khai Ka, Krung Thon Bridge, Prannok, Thewet, Oriental, Ratchawong, Pibulsongkram 2, Wat Tuek, Pibulsongkram 1, Wat Khema, Wat Soi Thong, Wat Thepakorn, Wat Thepnahree and Rot Fai, to be opened by 2025.

“Once smart piers are opened, the number of passengers is expected to increase to 53,000 people daily by 2027,” she said.

Three more smart piers to be opened in 2023, as part of 29 planned by 2025

Apart from construction of 29 smart piers, she said the government is also promoting the use of electric ferries to save energy, reduce air pollution and mitigate impact on environment.

These moves are in line with the government’s plan to achieve carbon neutrality and net-zero carbon emission goals by 2050 and 2065, respectively, she added.

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PM inaugurates smart piers as part of infrastructure push

Govt holds responsible fishing workshop in Phuket

GLO to issue another 30m digital lottery tickets to combat overpricing

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GLO to issue another 30m digital lottery tickets to combat overpricing

GLO to issue another 30m digital lottery tickets to combat overpricing

THURSDAY, JANUARY 26, 2023

The number of lottery tickets sold online for each draw will be increased by at least 30 million this year, the Government Lottery Office (GLO) said on Thursday.

The GLO began selling tickets via the Pao Tang app in June last year in a bid to combat lottery overpricing.

The face value of government lottery tickets is 80 baht, but tickets with sought-after “lucky” numbers are often resold at much higher prices in the off- and online grey market.

So far, the GLO appears powerless to prevent overpricing and other violations in the grey market that has sprung up to exploit the government lottery.

At least two major private online platforms selling lottery tickets are currently under investigation over allegations that include overpricing, money laundering and false advertising. Among them is the operator of Kong Salak Plus lottery platform, which has been charged with reselling tickets at inflated prices.

GLO to issue another 30m digital lottery tickets to combat overpricing

On Thursday, the GLO insisted that all tickets are being sold by more than 30,000 retailers at 80 baht apiece.

Meanwhile, winners who buy tickets through the Pao Tang app will receive their cash prizes in their bank accounts within two hours, it said.

The quota for each lottery vendor is now three sets of printed tickets per draw, or five sets if they sell digital tickets, it added.

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GLO rubbishes rumours of winning numbers being leaked to its staff

Thailand hikes key interest rate by 25 basis points

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Thailand hikes key interest rate by 25 basis points

Thailand hikes key interest rate by 25 basis points

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 25, 2023

The Bank of Thailand’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) on Wednesday voted unanimously to raise the policy interest rate by 25 basis points to 1.50% aimed at controlling inflation.

MPC secretary Piti Disyatat said the rate hike took immediate effect.

The MPC made the decision based on continued economic recovery driven by private sector consumption and the tourism industry, thanks to the return of Chinese tourists this year after the country lifted travel restrictions, he said.

Piti added that exports are expected to slow down this year but would pick up in 2024 following the improving global economy, which is believed to pass the lowest point in 2023.

The MPC estimated that headline inflation this year would show a downward trend following the gradual decline in energy and consumer product prices. However, core inflation will remain at a high level, with a chance of rising further due to increasing demand driven by the economic recovery.

Piti said the committee would continue monitoring factors that could contribute to rising inflation, including rising manufacturing cost and the recovery of the tourism industry that could cause demand-pull inflation.

Piti added that the country’s overall financial system is stable with commercial banks having adequate funds and reserves, while the debt repayment of the business and household sectors was also improving following the economic recovery.

The MPC advised financial institutions to offer debt restructuring periodically to facilitate small and medium enterprises and vulnerable households that have suffered from increasing cost of living, and also roll out measures to solve debt problems in the long term.

The MPC forecast that the baht would strengthen against the US dollar, as it was widely expected the Federal Reserve would employ less aggressive interest rate adjustment. The influx of Chinese tourists will also contribute towards the baht strengthening. The committee said it would continue to closely monitor the situation and fluctuations in the global currency market.

The MPC said it would employ suitable monetary policies to ensure the stability of the financial system and promote Thailand’s economic expansion to its full potential.

The central bank’s previous rate adjustment was on November 30 of last year, when it hiked the rate from 1% to 1.25%, also in a bid to control inflation.

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Prayut touts efforts to promote human rights, ensure equity

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Prayut touts efforts to promote human rights, ensure equity

Prayut touts efforts to promote human rights, ensure equity

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 25, 2023

The government is working to enhance safeguards protecting human rights in Thailand, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Wednesday.

The new measures range from improving public health and pensions to reforming prisons, and deterring sexual assault and forced disappearance, the prime minister wrote on Facebook.

Human security is crucial for the future of Thailand, Prayut said.

The Cabinet has approved a project to improve the public health system using cloud computing, which will enable all hospitals to track every patient’s history, including diagnoses and treatment.

“This will enable all Thais to receive treatment anywhere and improve the efficiency of patient transferring [between hospitals],” he said.

Prayut said the Cabinet has approved ministerial regulations to increase the National Savings Fund’s pension scheme to encourage people to save more for retirement.

“The monthly pension for people who start saving at 15 years old and retire at 60 years old has doubled from 7,387 baht [per month] to 16,779 baht,” he said.

Prayut touts efforts to promote human rights, ensure equity

The government has also passed legislation to increase penalties for repeat sexual assault offenders and another law that increases penalties for those linked to forced disappearances. Both pieces of legislation will take effect in the middle of this year, the prime minister wrote.

“These laws aim to ensure safety in society and protect human rights in line with international principles,” he said.

Prayut also said other reforms to the judicial system were being made. Court hearings will be accelerated, while people convicted of minor offenses will receive fines or community service rather than jail terms, he said.

“Prisons are not for detaining the poor. All people make mistakes,” the prime minister wrote.

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Thailand to spend 8.8 billion baht on new aircraft for VIP travel

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Thailand to spend 8.8 billion baht on new aircraft for VIP travel

Thailand to spend 8.8 billion baht on new aircraft for VIP travel

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 25, 2023

The Cabinet has approved an 8.78-billion-baht budget to procure new aircraft for VIPs including royals, privy counsellors, prime ministers, ministers and royal guests.

Proposed by the Prime Minister’s Secretariat and approved on Tuesday, the plan includes procurement of new aircraft and components, and training of personnel.

The budget will be spent over four years from fiscal year 2024 – 1.75 billion baht in 2024, 2.19 billion baht in 2025, 2.20 billion baht in 2026 and 2.63 billion baht in 2027.

The proposal said the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) needs to replace the old Airbus A340-500 procured from Thai Airways International (THAI) for VIP travel.

“The airbus, which THAI used between 2005 and 2012, was commissioned in 2015,” the proposal said, adding that maintenance costs for the aircraft had risen after Airbus suspended production in 2012.

The Airbus is currently used to transport VIPs but also for humanitarian missions aiding victims of natural disasters and evacuation of Thai nationals abroad.

“The RTAF has prepared an operation plan, budget expenditure, corruption risk assessment and list of procurement needs,” the proposal added.

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Krung Thep Aphiwat: All aboard the ‘smart’ future of Thai rail travel

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Krung Thep Aphiwat: All aboard the 'smart' future of Thai rail travel

Krung Thep Aphiwat: All aboard the ‘smart’ future of Thai rail travel

TUESDAY, JANUARY 24, 2023

Bangkok’s Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Terminal was touted as the “smart” future of rail travel in Thailand on Tuesday, days after it took over as the national hub from the century-old Hua Lamphong station.

Krung Thep Aphiwat “is considered the first smart railway station in Asean, with facilities, such as robots called SRT Bots, smart wheelchairs and smart closed-circuit television cameras,” government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said.

It also connects with Bangkok’s urban train and bus system to provide seamless travel links to the rest of the city, he added.

Last Friday, the new 34-billion-baht Bangkok terminus in Chatuchak district became the hub for all long-distance trains running North, Northeast and South. Only 14 long-distance services heading East are still using Hua Lamphong.

Anucha noted that a free shuttle bus service is running between Krung Thep Aphiwat and Hua Lamphong to aid passengers during the transition period.

He said the government is confident that Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Terminal will be a worthy successor to the 107-year-old Hua Lamphong station, which holds a special place in the hearts of Thai travellers.

Krung Thep Aphiwat: All aboard the 'smart' future of Thai rail travel

The State Railway of Thailand insists it has no intention to shut Hua Lamphong, whose neo-renaissance arched wooden roof and stained-glass windows have stood as a landmark in Pathum Wan district since 1916.

Instead, the Transport Ministry has announced plans to open it as a museum as part of redevelopment of the Hua Lamphong area.

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Free shuttle buses to start linking Bangkok’s two main train stations from Thursday

SRT suspends scandal-hit signboard project at Bangkok’s central station

TAT launches new guidelines to promote Thailand’s 5 soft powers

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TAT launches new guidelines to promote Thailand’s 5 soft powers

TAT launches new guidelines to promote Thailand’s 5 soft powers

MONDAY, JANUARY 23, 2023

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has come up with guidelines to launch events and festivals to attract tourists in line with the government’s “5Fs soft power”.

The government launched the so-called 5Fs last year, with a focus on five key attractions – food, film, fashion, fighting and festivals – to promote Thailand internationally.

Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said on Monday that TAT plans to announce a year of Thai gastronomy this year, adding that it will also include a walking street and an international food festival.

“In terms of film, TAT plans to launch a film city tour, allowing tourists to visit sites where well-known films and television series were shot,” he said.

For fighting, he said, TAT will launch an “Amazing Muay Thai Festival 2023” at Rajabhakti Park in Hua Hin on February 6 with the aim of attracting more than 3,500 boxing enthusiasts.

Festivals will also be held throughout the year to promote local traditions, wisdom and culture, such as Chinese New Year and Songkran, he said.

Anucha BurapachaisriAnucha Burapachaisri

“The premier believes that these activities will help tourists experience the beauty of Thailand’s attractions and culture,” he added.

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