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Too far off to think about?

Somchai

Somchai

At a recent conference jointly hosted by the World Bank and the Thailand Development Research Institute, Somchai Jitsuchon, TDRI director of research into inclusive development, complained that while Malaysia had announced its vision to become a developed nation by 2020, we had not been hearing such a long-term vision from Thai politicians.

Somchai said Thailand needed to find innovative ways to avoid falling into a "middle-income trap" as its population ages. Already the country has seen its economic growth rates decelerate markedly: From growing by 6-7 per cent per annum during a previous 15-year period, gross domestic product has in recent years been growing by just 4 per cent per year or less, he said.

And this may the reason politicians dare not announce a vision for Thailand to achieve developed-nation status. Somchai said he once calculated that if the economy keeps growing at its current rate, it would take this country as long as 30-40 years to reach the same income levels as developed nations.

When minor matters become major

April is the month of general shareholders meetings of companies listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand. Minority shareholders join these meetings, and they need some benefit from the companies in which they are stakeholders, though less than major shareholders.

Last week, one of the minor shareholders of Italian-Thai Development went to the company's shareholders meeting but was two hours late because of a traffic jam. When he had registered for the meeting, he had received two coupons, one for a snack and one for a beverage. But when he went to the food counter to ask for these, it had run out.

When he walked into the meeting room, serious consideration was under way to approve the company's 2013 financial results. He stood up and addressed the management team, who were also major shareholders, and said it had taken him more than three hours to get to this meeting, and he had not had lunch. He had thought he would get a snack and beverage at the meeting but was disappointed.

This put the discussion about a slight drop in the company's financial performance and the lack of a dividend payment on hold, as the managers on the stage ordered the staff to take care of the shareholders immediately. It turned out that it was not only the man who came late who didn't get his snack and drink, but more that half of the people at the meeting. This was because the company had underestimated how many people would show up, and more than 1,200 attended.

This is a lesson for all listed firms: When you plan a shareholders meeting, make sure the planning includes enough food and souvenirs (if any) for everyone. If not, you may have to waste time that should be focused on serious issues to manage minor matters.

Contributed by Pichaya Changsorn and Somluck Srimalee.


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