EARTH Thailand

Cabinet approves environment law amendment

Bangkok Post 13 October 2009  

The cabinet on Tuesday approved a draft amendment to the 1992 Enhancement and Conservation of National Environmental Quality Act as proposed by the Council of State, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said.

He said the draft amendment was in line with Article 67 of the constitution.

The cabinet assigned PM's Office Minister Sathit Wongnongtoey to promote understanding with environment activists and the National Human Rights Commission over the proposed amendment, Mr Abhisit said.

However, Stop Global Warming Association president Srisuwan Janya said activists and the commission did not believe the proposed amendment would solve problems associated with the Map Ta Phut pollution saga.

Mr Abhisit said that while the draft legislation was pending parliamentary approval the National Environment Board would issue a regulation for temporary enforcement.

The draft amendment would establish an independent organisation to give advice to a state agency in charge of approving investment projects.  It would also require project developers to conduct health impact assessment studies and hold public hearings before starting a project.

The move to amend the environment law was prompted by an Administrative Court injunction on Sept 29 suspending 76 industrial projects worth over US$12 billion in Rayong province on environmental grounds.

Standard Chartered Bank senior economist Usara Wilaipich warned that the suspension of projects in the country's largest industrial estate would lower investor confidence and halt investment.

Ms Usara called on the government to resolve the Map Ta Phut case quickly.

She also said Thailand's economy will likely expand by 2.8 per cent next year and 4.5 per cent in 2011.

The bank's projection for the country's gross domestic product this year remained unchanged at negative 3.5 per cent, she said.

The global economy was gradually improving but the Thai economy would continue to be dependent on state investment, she said.

"The risk factors of the Thai economy are political instability and investment and export difficulties.

''Liquidity in the financial system will likely decrease due to the state sector's capital mobilisation and the private sector's increasing loan demands," the economist said.