We'll beat corruption: new minister

national July 07, 2013 00:00

By The Nation on Sunday

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Yingluck reports on visit to boost trade with Poland

New Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan said yesterday he was highly motivated to plug corruption loopholes in the rice-pledging scheme – plagued by reports of massive losses and graft – and confident of success because he has a strong team of two capable deputies.
Niwatthamrong, also a deputy prime minister, was among new Cabinet members who got to outline their vision and focus of their work on the weekly Yingluck Government Meets the People programme. The PM hosted yesterday’s show from Poland, where she was paying an official visit.
The Commerce Ministry has been thrust into the spotlight over the rice scheme’s huge losses, which could threaten the survival of the government. 
PM’s Office Minister and deputy Agriculture Minister Varathep Rattanakorn said the government was keen to support farmers so they could earn income implementing agriculture zoning, which aims to find the variety plants most suited to different areas of land, as well as climate and market demand. The idea was to provide farmers with economic sustainability, he said. 
The government believed that agricultural zoning was a long-term solution to support farmers deal with the plunge in the price of rice.
Varathep said a pilot project for agricultural zoning was planned in Kamphaeng Phet in the north and other provinces in the Northeast.
Yingluck, meanwhile, vowed to increase bilateral trade and investment between Thailand and Poland – to US$1 billion – within five years. She said Thailand and Poland officially established ties over 40 years but had yet to see buoyant growth in trade and investment.
She believed the country had great economic potential because it was strategically located in the centre of Europe and borders seven countries. 
The PM said she would push Thai exporters to use Poland as a base for exporting their products to other European countries because Poland was part of the EU, so they could enjoy special privileges.
Further, Yingluck said Poland had technological advancement in its agriculture sector. Five Thai companies had established a foothold in Poland and found that food processing and alternative energy were two sectors that they do well.
“In the same way that we are gateway to Asean, Poland is gateway to the EU. If we team up, we can be gateways to the two continents. Poland wants to expand investment to Asean,’’ she said.
Yingluck said she hopes to promote Thai tourism in Poland because the country’s weather was extremely cold for eight months and only enjoyed four months of summer.
The PM said she would invite the Polish Premier to visit Thailand and deliver a speech on Poland’s long democratic struggle – to share their knowledge and experience.

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