Only 254 new factories were opened in January, falling by 23.26 per cent from 331 in the same period last year, according to the Industrial Works Department.
Nattapon Nattasomboon, the director-general, said that the number has fallen since December. He said in January last year, more food processing plants - mostly operated by small and medium-sized enterprises - were opened.
In January, the new factories employed 5,905 jobs, down by 6.77 per cent from 6,334 in the same period last year. Their investment value also dropped by 28.82 per cent from Bt12 billion to Bt8.5 billion. Only 30 factories announced expansion plans in the month, compared to 46 in the same period last year.
"The number may fall by two main reasons. First, the service centres like the the department's office was shut down by the anti-government protesters, blocking them from obtaining licenses. Second, business confidence has been dashed," Nattapon said.
In the month, 54 factories were closed, down from 120 in the same period last year.
Asked if the February 2 election would enhance their confidence, he said it depended largely on when the political protests and conflicts would end. He noted that some investors with projects worth Bt100 million to Bt1 billion still can wait a few more months.
"The department is now monitoring the impacts, particularly on SMEs. The manufacturing sector should not be largely impacted by the protests, but their orders may drop if product sales drop," he said.