Economy January 07, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

Commerce, private sector to meet on plans for Bangkok shutdown

The Commerce Ministry will today call a meeting with goods manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and logistics operators to draw up contingency plans for the Bangkok Shutdown scheduled for January 13.
Caretaker Deputy Minister Yanyong Phuangrach said yesterday that the meeting will protect consumers from experiencing shortages amid the sealing off of the capital. 
Businesses should not overcharge customers and should have measures in place to ensure adequate stocks during the big demonstration. 
Many modern retailers have suffered during the extended political conflict. Normally, sales should rise by 10 per cent during the festive season, but this year they were up by only 3 per cent.
Nod sought for rice-scheme loan 
The Finance Ministry has asked the Cabinet to approve a Bt50 billion loan granted by the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives to shore up the government’s rice-pledging scheme for 2013-14. 
The move would ease the rice-pledging project’s liquidity crunch, as the government has not been able to release its rice from granaries and that has led to the cashflow problem.
Life-insurance premiums rise  
Life insurance premiums in the first 11 months of last year climbed 15.11 per cent to Bt395.38 billion thanks to an increase in new business, according to the Thai Life Assurance Association.
New policy premiums surged 20.8 per cent to Bt135.51 billion, while renewal premiums increased 12.3 per cent to Bt259.87 billion.
Busara Ungphakorn, director of the association, said yesterday that insurers have developed new products to meet consumer requirements and also have promoted an awareness of savings through insurance products. 
The top three insurers by total premiums were AIA Thailand with Bt98.87 billion or 25.01 per cent of the market, Muang Thai Life Assurance with Bt54.89 billion and a 13.88-per-cent share; and Thai Life Insurance with Bt48.04 billion or a 12.15-per-cent share. In terms of new policy premiums, Muang Thai Life Assurance became the market leader with Bt25.53 billion, or an 18.84-per-cent share.
Developers’ confidence slips in Q4
The Housing Developers’ Sentiment Index in the fourth quarter of last year slid to 50.5 from 52.5 in the previous quarter, according to the Real Estate Information Centre. This is also lower than the previous eight quarters, Samma Kitsin, director-general of the REIC, said yesterday.
The REIC surveyed 166 property firms, of which 30 are listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand. The remaining 136 firms are non-listed companies.
This index result shows that there is less confidence among operators due to expectations of operating results of housing developers, lack of labour, rising costs from increased material prices and the current unstable political situation.