EARTH Thailand

Businesses fear impact of setback

Bangkok Post 27 January 2010  

Business leaders yesterday repeated their pleas for the government to speed up the resolution of the Map Ta Phut case, saying the latest court verdict to reject requests to restart 30 projects had severely depressed the investment climate.

Further prolonging the uncertainty over the giant industrial estate would make the outlook for industry development even worse, said Payungsak Chartsutthipol, vice-chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).

The FTI today plans to make new proposals to resolve the impasse to the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking before submitting them to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Mr Payungsak said the FTI would ask the premier to work with the private sector on a solution within 15 days.

The FTI will also ask the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning to speed up its decision on which projects do not need to conduct environmental impact assessments (EIAs).

"If the projects conformed with Section 67 of the 2007 Constitution, then they can go ahead, but for projects that need to submit petitions [to continue], these will have to be submitted by the government," he said.

It also calls for processes under Section 67 to be finished within five months and to shorten the process of conducting EIAs and health impact assessments.

Sorayud Phettrakul, an adviser to the Industry Ministry, said business operators of the 30 projects would be called in within this week to discuss how to refine the petitions that the Central Administrative Court rejected last Friday.

"We have the right to submit petitions to the court if we provide new information, but we need to look at details of the [earlier] petitions to see what information was left out," he said.

He said businesses would be grouped by size and type in order to gather information for reference.

For instance, the steel and petrochemical group will include baseline information on the blood types of people working in the industry, since the industries release chemicals, he said.

"If each party submits its own petition while collecting different baseline information, the result would be a difference in the reference," said Mr Sorayud.

The cabinet yesterday also approved the establishment of a committee to provide help to those affected by pollution, with Mr Sorayud as the chairman.