Economy May 20, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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AP sells Bt3 bn worth of condos at weekend launch

AP (Thailand) sold Bt3 billion worth, or about 42 per cent of the Bt7-billion value, of three condominium projects it launched this weekend at Siam Paragon.
They are Rhythm Asoke II, Rhythm Sukhumvit 36-38, and Aspire Ratchada-Wong Sawang. 
This sales success shows that demand is still strong despite the political turmoil and sluggish economy, said the company’s chief marketing officer, Vittakarn Chandavimol.
CIMB Thai appoints new head of research
CIMB Thai Bank has announced the appointment of Amonthep Chawla as head of research, with effect this month. His role is to conduct market research on financial liquidity, interest rates and the economic outlook to provide support to business units of the bank. 
Amonthep, 35, also evaluates business sectors that provide business opportunities or pose potential risks to the bank.
He joined CIMB Thai Bank as vice president for economic and financial market research last August. 
Amonthep brings with him experience in research from both government and private organisations.
Emirates reports 26th year of profit growth
The Emirates Group announced its 26th consecutive year of profit and company-wide growth, ending the year in a strong position despite competitive pressure and a global economic environment that is only slowly recovering. 
The financial year ending March 31 also marked an unprecedented level of investment across the group, continued expansion of its global footprint, and the achievement of new capacity milestones. 
In its “2013-14 Annual Report”, the Emirates Group posted a profit of 4.1 billion Emirati dirhams (Bt36 billion), up 32 per cent from last fiscal year. The group’s revenue reached 87.8 billion dirhams, an increase of 13 per cent, and the group’s cash balance remained strong at 19.0 billion dirhams. The group also continued to invest in and expand on its employee base, increasing its overall staff count by 11 per cent to more than 75,000, representing more than 160 nationalities, across its more than 80 subsidiaries and companies. 
Revenue per airline employee increased by 4 per cent to 1.9 million dirhams.
Organic Fresh Fair at Central Plaza 
To promote  health consciousness, the Commerce Ministry,  Central Food Retail, and the Thai Organic Trade Association will jointly  organise “Organic Fresh Fair 2014” at Central Plaza, Rama III, from May 27 to June 2.
Srirat Rastapana, permanent-secretary to the ministry, said many organic produce will be on sales at the fair. The ministry will continue to promote organic foods as they have high added value and environmently-friendly.
The ministry will next organise “Organic and Natural Expo 2014” from July 24-27 at Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre. 
Media agency Carat Thailand receives another plaudit 
Carat Thailand scored highest in Recma’s “Thailand Qualitative Evaluation” of 22 leading media agencies in the country.
The Research Company Evaluating the Media Agency Industry assessed each agency in two groups of performance areas – vitality, which investigates an agency’s competitiveness and momentum, and structure, which evaluates the agency’s resources and client profile.
“Competitiveness” looks into how successful the agency has been in pitches participation. “Momentum” explains growth in billings, management stability, new talents recruitment and promotion, and major awards won. 
“Resources” analyses how the agency staffs up for its mainstream and diversified services. “Client profile” examines whether the agency’s portfolio has been well balanced between big international clients and sizeable local roots and how well each performs at retaining its top clients. 
Parithas Moongprasittichai, chief executive of Carat Thailand, said that the company this year was also presented by R3, a global consultancy for effective multinational agency engagements, a certificate for first-rank performance in the 2013 Thailand New Business League across 14 of the region’s leading media agencies.
He added that growing the client base and billings was very important but grooming people to be able to deliver high quality services professionally was not of any lower priority. 
Public debt hits 46% of GDP 
Outstanding public debt has climbed to Bt5.5 trillion or 46 per cent of gross domestic product as of March 31.
Of the total, Bt3.92 trillion was from the government, Bt1.09 trillion from non-financial state enterprises, Bt532.18 billion from financial state enterprises and Bt6.91 billion from other state agencies, Chularat Sutheethorn, director-general of the Public Debt Management Office, said yesterday.
Compared with the previous month, net public debt rose by Bt3.87 billion, as the increase of Bt13.53 billion in government debt was offset by falls of Bt7.47 billion from non-financial state enterprises, Bt1.24 billion from financial state enterprises and Bt940.51 million from other state agencies. 
GHB posts rise in new loans 
The Government Housing Bank’s new loans in the first quarter increased by 5.52 per cent year on year, but its outstanding loans expanded only 1.34 per cent to Bt746.34 billion from the end of last year. 
Deposits in the first quarter were up by 4.17 per cent to Bt624.89 billion and non-performing loans stood at 6.29 per cent of outstanding loans.
The bank in the first quarter aggressively sold non-performing assets (NPA), causing its NPAs at the end of the first quarter to drop by 9.55 per cent to Bt1.87 billion. The bank has kept its plan to sell the remaining NPAs by staging auctions nationwide. 
Shippers’ council fears GDP growth of only 1% this year 
The Thai National Shippers’ Council anticipates gross domestic product to grow by only about 1 per cent along with a 3-per-cent increase in exports this year, said president Nopporn Tepsittha.
He said that amid the huge uncertainties over the country’s political direction, it was highly possible that the economy would grow by just 1 per cent or a bit more.
The council has forecast export growth of about 3 per cent thanks to the initial recovery of the global economy. However, it will take a couple of years for global demand for certain products from Thailand to rebound fully.
Working team to analyse economic woes
Somchai Sujjapongse, director-general of the Fiscal Policy Office, said the Finance Ministry had set up a working team to find ways to mitigate the damage being done to the economy by the political crisis.
The team, chaired by Somchai, will follow the progress of the economy very closely and find ways to keep it growing by using the tools available to the government, especially accelerating state spending.
He said the working team would involve relevant agencies including the State Enterprise Policy Office, the Bank of Thailand, specific financial institutions (state-owned banks), and the Interior Ministry’s Department of Local Administration.