EARTH Thailand

Meeting on Map Ta Phut projects today

The Nation 26 January 2010  

The companies with 30 industrial projects paralysed by the court will meet today to chart a course to get them restarted as soon as possible.

Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) vice chairman Payungsak Chartsutipol yesterday said the private sector would thoroughly review the Central Administrative Court's injunction and how they should comply with it.

They remained confused about the court order to cease development or operation of these projects, he said.

Siam Yamato Steel has won an exception to the suspension by citing it did not need to conduct a health-impact assessment (HIA) and public hearing, because its environmental-impact assessment (EIA) was approved before the 2007 Constitution took effect.

However, the 30 projects failed in their bid to free themselves from the court order relying on a similar argument.

Stock analysts viewed that news as negative for the stock market, because it reduced the likelihood that some projects could proceed sooner than expected.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand Index fell for a fifth straight day, by 3.71 points, or 0.5 per cent, closing at 710.39 points, its lowest level since December 15. The court's decision was partly blamed for the fall.

The FTI's Payungsak met with Korbsak Sabhavasu, secretary to the prime minister, for a discussion on the court injunction.

Korbsak said the Industry Ministry would report the latest situation to the Cabinet meeting today. The ministry will also propose the Cabinet establish a One Start One Stop (OSOS) service centre to address the problems in the Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate.

The OSOS would also advise suspended projects on how to seek a court release.

"The task force will find a way for the 64 halted projects to go ahead, as well as give advice on EIAs, HIAs and public hearings. It will also take care of new investors in the Map Ta Phut area," he said.

The court last Friday ruled the 64 projects would remain suspended until they fulfilled all of the environmental- and health-impact requirements under Article 67 (2) of the Constitution.

Atthapol Ruekphiboon, a spokesman for the PTT oil group, said that following the court decision, the group would confer with state agencies such as the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand and Industrial Works Department on whether they are authorised to issue operating licences. If they can, PTT will seek consultation on a case-by-case basis.

One of the 30 projects in limbo is PTT's sixth gas separation plant. Its delay means some of the operating gas separation plants must postpone annual maintenance, or the liquefied petroleum gas shortage would be worse.

Poonsub Sakunee, director of the bureau of fuel trade and stockpile under the Energy Business Department, said the department is discussing with PTT about the rescheduling of maintenance with safety issues also in consideration.