Lower economic growth likely, China opens gas pipeline from Myanmar & new government transparency law may not be transparent itself.
Lower growth forecast
29 Jul 2013
The Fiscal Policy Office (FPO) has trimmed its economic growth projection for this year, from 4.5% down to 4%, citing a slump in exports and a slowdown in domestic consumption and private investment.
FPO deputy director Ekniti Nitithanprapas said on Monday that the economy banked on the third and fourth quarters to grow at least 4.4% and keep its 4% forecast intact.
The country’s economy grew 5.3% in the first three months, in line with the FPO's projection, but the second quarter is expected to fall below its 4% forecast.
Mr Ekniti, however, said rising exports to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam and robust growth of the tourism sector will carry Thailand through to the 4% target.
Thai exports to the four countries accounted for 7.5% of total shipments this year. The tourism sector grew 20% this year with Chinese visitors driving the growth.
The FPO also expected a rise in agricultural prices, especially rubber, and state investment would also help Thailand reach the 4% growth target.
China opens gas pipeline from Myanmar
China has switched on a new pipeline bringing natural gas from Myanmar, a state company said Monday, in a project that has raised concerns in Myanmar's nascent civil society about whether its giant neighbour's resource grabs will benefit local people.
The 793-kilometre (493-mile) pipeline connects the Bay of Bengal with southwest China's Yunnan province and is expected to transfer 12 billion cubic metres of natural gas to China annually.... A parallel 771-kilometre (479-mile) pipeline that will carry Middle East oil — shipped via the Indian Ocean — is still under construction.
China's investments, largely in energy and mining, have generated controversy in Myanmar because they have done little to relieve that country's chronic power shortages. In response, last year the Myanmar government abruptly suspended construction of the China-backed Myitsone dam, which would displace thousands and flood the spiritual heartland of Myanmar's Kachin ethnic minority.
While the pipelines are only expected to provide a small proportion of China's oil and gas consumption, they are strategically important to Beijing. The gas pipeline that began operating Sunday offers a nearby source of gas, and the oil pipeline would eliminate the need for tankers from the Middle East to pass through the crowded Malacca Strait between Malaysia and Indonesia.
New government transparency law may not be transparent itself
An anti-corruption watchdog has raised concerns that a draft Prime Minister's Office announcement intended to ensure transparent and independent scrutiny of state procurement projects may not be transparent itself.
The government is pushing for authorising the government to appoint outside observers to monitor state projects.
But critics noted the government would be selective who it chooses to observe the projects and this could also be exploited by state authorities as an excuse to sideline other independent watchdogs.
Anti-corruption watchdogs had asked to monitor or observe bidding procedures for the government's megaprojects but have been left out of the process so far.
The 2-trillion-baht infrastructure loan and 350-billion-baht water management schemes are at the forefront of the watchdogs' interest.
Enforcement of the announcement could begin with a Transport Ministry project to procure 3,183 natural gas-fuelled passenger buses, worth about 13 billion baht.
No laws or regulations so far allow for the monitoring or observation of the bidding process.
Learn from listening
Click "play" to listen to What's new in business news: July 29, 2013 and "Download" to keep this file for educational purpose.
Latest stories in this category:
- Protests: Marching day, PM dissolves parliament
- Protests: “Final battle” starts tomorrow
- A big language challenge
- Chiang Khong bridge to open December 11th
- Rotating house to catch sun & wind: Made in Chiang Rai
- Nelson Mandela dies aged 95
- Thais celebrate His Majesty the King’s birthday
- Satellite TV: Jamming signal of Blue Sky & Thai Asia