The Nation




Transport minister promises revamp of bus system

Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt has revealed the ministry's plan to revamp Bangkok's public bus service, expecting concrete results within the next year or two.

The revamp includes improvements in how the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority operates the bus service, and the procurement of new buses. Tenders will be put out next year for 3,183 NGV (natural-gas-fuelled) buses, worth about Bt13 billion.

Chadchart said the ministry had studied how other countries had improved their bus services. South Korea, for one, used to have similar problems as Thailand is facing now. However, it improved the service and made the public buses quite popular by ensuring high service quality. He said the ministry would next year introduce a joint ticket system allowing passengers to use their bus tickets for other public-transport services such urban railways.

OIE aims to make Thailand fashion hub

The Office of Industrial Economics (OIE) has allocated Bt21 million to conduct a study into developing Thailand as a major centre for apparel, jewellery and accessories, including shifting labour-intensive garment companies to neighbouring countries.

According to director-general Somchai Harnhirun, the OIE plans to study the development of a fully integrated network of fashion-related industries, such as clothing, jewellery, accessories, cloth fibres and textile technology. He said it was necessary to shift away from labour-intensive industries because of the rising cost of domestic labour, which is no longer competitive with rivals.

Fashion-related industries are vital to the Thai economy as they employ about 2.2 million people and earn the country at least US$20 billion (Bt646 billion) in annual export revenue, or 10 per cent of the value of the country's industrial-goods exports.

Asean, US agree new programmes

Asean and US officials met yesterday in Jakarta to launch new cooperation programmes and mark achievements over the course of 36 years of partnership.

The event highlighted joint promotion of trade and investment, good governance, combating transnational crimes such as trafficking in persons and wildlife, and promoting people-to-people ties through youth-engagement activities.

Nyan Lynn, the bloc's deputy secretary-general for the Asean Political Security Community, welcomed continuing cooperation between Asean and the United States and encouraged both sides to look into other potential areas that would contribute to building the Asean community by 2015 and beyond.

The US Agency for International Development and the US State Department, in cooperation with other US government agencies, launched two new five-year flagship programmes totalling US$30 million (Bt969 billion) based at the Asean Secretariat.

Myanmar serves as the coordinating country for the United States within Asean and will chair the bloc next year.

Myanmar to allow foreign banks

A senior officer of Myanmar's central bank has revealed that the country will allow foreign banks to start offering limited financial services next year, according to Reuters.

Myanmar is allowing more financial freedom after its economic and politic reformation. As of now, 34 foreign banks have offices in Myanmar including Bangkok Bank, Siam Commercial Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group. However, these banks are not allowed to open branches or provide services to their customers beside advice.

For the past 10 years, the Myanmar government has allowed foreign banks to operate joint ventures with local banks before having their own independent branches. The central bank official said it was forming a plan to amend this process by allowing some foreign banks to provide other services next year.

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