EARTH Thailand

Japanese want clear timeframe to invest

Bangkok Post 20 February 2010 | Thanida Tansubhapol

Japanese investors have confirmed they are still ready to boost investment in Thailand but have asked the government to come up with a clear timeframe for resolving the Map Ta Phut impasse.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya yesterday invited Japanese investors to the ministry to clarify the Map Ta Phut pollution problem, which led to the administrative case filed by local villagers against eight state agencies.

The villagers accused the government agencies of failing to comply with Section 67 of the constitution in approving the industrial projects.

Attending the ministry's briefing were Japanese ambassador to Thailand Kyoji Komaji, representatives from the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and the Japan External Trade Organisation.

"I got a confirmation from Japan that its investors are still interested in investing in Thailand and are ready to expand investments but they would like to know the exact timeframe for tackling the Map Ta Phut case," said the minister.

The government has assigned the public prosecutors to appeal to the Administrative Court to allow factories with minimum environmental impact to proceed with construction, said Mr Kasit.

The court on Sept 29 last year ordered 76 projects in Rayong's Map Ta Phut area suspended pending the case's trial.

Around a dozen factories were later delisted from the suspension order following an appeal by state agencies and investors.

The minister quoted the Japanese investors' representatives as saying that they were ready to comply with Thai laws and international standards on environmental protection.

"Japan reiterated that it has no intention of putting pressure on the Thai government [over the Map Ta Phut issue]," Mr Kasit said.

Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij and Bank of Thailand representatives will go to Japan on March 12-13 to further clarify the problems and rebuild confidence among Japanese investors.

In another development, the Administrative Court judges for the Map Ta Phut case will visit the planned constructions sites of nine industrial projects in Rayong on Monday.

Operators of the nine projects, mostly in the petrochemical industry, who were ordered to suspend them earlier, appealed to the court to allow them to proceed with construction work and test-runs, saying that delays would badly impact their operations.