Property firms acquire land worth nearly Bt100 billion

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Real Estate February 05, 2018 01:00

By Somluck Srimalee
The Nation

Twelve listed property firms have announced investment budgets worth between Bt98.04 and Bt99.04 billion to acquire land to develop residential projects worth between Bt385.15 billion and Bt385.64 billion in the year 2018, according to a survey by The Nation.

Over half of the investment budget from the firms will come from their initial cash while others will issue debentures worth a combined nearly Bt50 billion, along with seeking project financing from the commerฌcial banks, according to the survey.

For example, Land & Houses Plc plans to issue debentures worth Bt14 billion this year, while Sansiri Plc issued debentures for Bt4 billion early this year, and Pruksa Holding Plc is planning to raise Bt5 billion from issue of debentures this year.

“We are confident the property market will experience strong growth of 510 per cent this year, thanks to the country’s estimated economic growth of 4 to 4.5 per cent in the year, while the country’s exports and tourism have seen strong growth following the global ecoฌnomic recovery,” said Naporn Sunthrnchitcharoen, Land and Houses chairman of the board of directors.

Meanwhile, the government has expanded investments worth over Bt2 trillion from 2018 to 2020 to develop infrastructure projects nationwide.

That will boost the demand for residential project growth from this year through the next three years, said Pruksa Real Estate Plc’s chief executive officer premium, Prasert Taedullayasatit.

With the nationwide infrastructure expansion, most listed property firms have continued to develop residential projects around both existing and new mass transit routes.

Following the trend, land prices around existing and new mass transit routes have increased by double digits this year compared with last year.

“With land prices rising, it will boost residential price increases this year by five per cent,” said Pruksa’s Prasert. “Land price rises were the main factor affecting residential price increases last year, while other cost factors such as construction and labour moved slightly.”

A January 2 announcement of the Treasury Department of the Finance Ministry noted that land prices nationwide were rising by double digits, especially in the central business districts of Bangkok.

For example, land on Silom Road showed the highest appraisal value at Bt1 million per square wah, up 15 per cent from its price of Bt850,000 per square wah four years ago. Ploenchit was next at the price of Bt900,000 per square wah, up 12.5 per cent from its price of Bt800,000 per square wah four years ago, while Sathorn Road price was Bt750,000 per square wah, up 15.3 per cent from Bt650,000 per square four year ago

Meanwhile, the purchase last week of 25 rai (4 hectares) of land on Wireless Road, formerly part of the UK embassy grounds, topped out at Bt1.86 million per square wah. Central Group partnered with Hongkong Land to buy the properฌty to develop a mixeduse project. The price had risen by 95.78 per cent from 10 years ago, when Central Group acquired a ninerai (1.44hectare) slice of the UK embassy land. The opening bid in 2007 was Bt950,000 per square wah.



New agency proposed to spur growth in fintech startups

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Rapee Sucharitakul, secretary general of SEC
Rapee Sucharitakul, secretary general of SEC

Economy February 15, 2018 01:00


REGULATORS plan to offer financial and other privileges to aid the development of financial technology (fintech) startup ventures.

Elsewhere in the fast-moving technology sector, the regulators also say they will soon put in place clear rules aimed at protecting those who buy into international coin offerings (ICOs) and make other types of investments in cryptocurrencies.

The Finance Ministry said it planned to create an institution for financial innovation and technology to provide financial support to fintech startups, along with other privileges.

Speaking at a fintech forum hosted by the Thai Fintech Association yesterday, Somchai Sujjapongse, permanent secretary for finance, said the ministry would this year propose to the Cabinet that the new institution to foster growth of fintech startups be set up, backed by investment of Bt500 million.

The proposed institution would select startups that have good ideas to develop new financial services. Those selected enterprises would be given training, advice and office space to work in, he said.

Their products would be nurtured in an experimental sandbox regulated by the Bank of Thailand, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or other regulators. If they pass the experimental test, the startup founders would likely to get funding from venture capital or angel investors, Somchai said.

Regarding ICOs, Rapee Sucharitakul, secretary general of SEC, said that companies wanting to raise funds through this new mechanism were free to do so, as there were no regulatory barriers to his form of fundraising.

However, the SEC would over the next two months put in place regulations to govern ICO activity. This will ensure that the interests of investors are protected, Rapee said.

The regulations would specify what type of companies can hold an ICO, and that such issuers need not be listed companies.

Rapee said that ICO issuers must disclose accurate information to investors. They also have to make clear to investors what the raised funds would be used for.

As fundraisings via ICO involve cryptocurrencies, he said regulators need to introduce regulations that governed the use of these digital currencies.

Rapee said Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong had assigned the Finance Ministry, the SEC, the BOT and Anti Money Laundering Office to draft regulations concerning cryptocurrencies. This process was expected to be completed in the next three weeks, he said.

The BOT has voiced its concerns over the risks associated with cryptocurrencies and has sought cooperation from commercial banks to not engage in transactions involving them.

The central bank is worried about the prospect of financial fraud arising from an absence of regulations governing the digital currencies.

However, Rapee said institutions or investors could enter into transactions involving the virtual currencies.



Valentine’s Day celebrated in many ways across the nation

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national February 15, 2018 01:00

By The Nation

AS THE modern tradition of Valentine’s Day celebrations took hold in Thailand yesterday, couples professed their love at romantically decorated tourist attractions and registered their marriages in front of joyous witnesses.


Many couples tied the knot officially at a district office with auspicious name such as Bangkok’s Bang Rak “district of love” or Bang Sue “district of honesty”.

At Bang Rak, the capital city’s most popular celebration site, district officials not only provided a Valentine’s Day marriage registration service but also organised a lucky draw with impressive prizes including “gold marriage certification” for 10 lucky couples.

Sukanya Khamdee, 30, a company employee, said she and her boyfriend reserved first place in the queue by arriving at 11pm on Tuesday, becoming the first couple to register their marriage on Valentine’s Day.

By 4am, the grounds in front of the central post office building, which was decorated to reflect the nostalgic period of the King Rama V era, were crowded – as they are every year. By 8am, nearly 200 couples were waiting in the queue.

Bang Rak district chief director Phakkaporn Sa-nguansak said officials were prepared to register 10 couples at a time, with registrations from 7.30am to 4pm.

In Chon Buri, 99 couples were married on elephant back at the famous attraction Suan Nong Nuch, where there was a grand wedding procession zigzagging through “Dinosaur Valley” featuring mocked-up prehistoric scenes.

In Si Sa Ket, 49 couples were married at the Mor-E-Daeng Cliff in the Khao Phra Viharn National Park amid the romantic atmosphere warmed by the first “three countries’ sunlight”, referring to the park’s proximity to Cambodia and Laos.

The grand event, titled “dreamy weddings in the first sunlight of three countries”, at 7am was witnessed by Si Sa Ket Governor Thawat Suraban, officials, merchants, the couples’ guests and members of the public. The kilometre-long wedding procession of four Thai ethnic cultures was led by three elephants to bring the couples to the Mor-E-Daeng Cliff where the marriage registrations took place before the traditional wedding-blessing ritual.

In the North, Buttree Puedpong, a taekwondo athlete who won a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and her groom, Pen-Ek Karaket, who won a silver medal in taekwando at the 2010 Asian Games, joined 12 other couples who professed their love for each other in hot air balloons over Chiang Rai’s Muang district after being married.

The special event was part of Singha Park Chiang Rai Balloon Fiesta 2018 held from February 14-18. The festival will see 35 fantasy balloons from 16 countries including the United States, Canada and Switzerland compete for the Bt500,000 top prize. Another highlight will be a spectacular 100-strong khon performance held from 6pm-7pm on February 16 and 17. Admission to the show is free.

To join in the spirit of the occasion, traffic cops in Khon Kaen and Sakhon Nakhon handed out roses and heart-shaped candy instead of traffic tickets – but only for Valentine’s Day.


Source :  The Nation Multimedia

Traffic blamed for air quality

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national February 15, 2018 01:00

Authorities plan to change fuel and launch the oddeven scheme BY 2029

THAI AUTHORITIES blamed heavy traffic for the severe air pollution, which has touched levels unsafe for people in the capital, while they vowed to kick off long-term measures to tackle the problem. Among the measures being considered are a change of car fuel in 2023 and odd-even rationing in 2029. At a press conference on the problem of dangerous particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) in Bangkok, held by the Public Health Ministry, the Pollution Control Department (PCD), and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) yesterday, it was reported that there were still no signs of a sharp rise in respiratory diseases or air pollution-related deaths in Bangkok. The authorities, however, have come out with a long-term plan to monitor and control the problem.According to air pollution reports from both the PCD and an international air-quality monitoring website, people in Bangkok continued to suffer from unsafe PM2.5 levels due to the cold weather in the capital this week that was conducive for air pollution, and too arid to create artificial rains.
Bangkok’s hourly real-time Air Quality Index (AQI), which is based on the United States Environmental Protection Agency standard, reported on that the PM2.5 level in Bangkok had reached 165 as of yesterday evening, which was unhealthy for everyone, especially vulnerable groups such as children, the elderly, and sick people. Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment permanent secretary Wijarn Simachaya revealed that air pollution in Bangkok was mainly caused by cars and the transportation sector. Auto registration data showed that there were up to 9.778 million vehicles on Bangkok’s roads. As PM2.5 level at every air-quality monitoring station in Bangkok was considered unsafe since January, according to PCD records disclosed by Wijarn, he said the authorities have a plan to switch from Euro IV standard petrol to Euro V standard in 2023, which has a lower level of sulphur and is hence more environmentally friendly. He said the average PM2.5 records in Bangkok from 2016-18 were well above levels considered safe. “The reason we have to wait that long to implement the fuel switching is because we have to provide enough time for the industrial sector to adapt to the new policy, but if the air pollution problem is still at a critical level, we will discuss again whether this measure can be implemented sooner,” he said. BMA deputy permanent secretary Suwanna Jungrungrueng stated that as there were nearly 10 million cars in Bangkok, four times higher than Bangkok’s road capacity, and some 500,000 new cars were registered every year, the city not only has a severe traffic problem but also the high traffic volume emitted a large amount of PM2.5 into the air. “Since Bangkok’s public transport system will be completed within the next 11 years, the BMA may come out with the odd-even road rationing similar to other major cities like Paris, which can cut air pollution in the city by half,” Suwanna said. Explaining the air pollution in Bangkok, Kamon Phromsakha, a representative from the Meteorological Department, said in recent weeks the air mass had ensured the pollution in the city did not rise beyond three kilometres from the ground, hence the pollution could not drift away. The department warned that the cold air from the high-pressure area in the North of Thailand, which aggravated air pollution in Bangkok, would last at least until this Saturday. The cold snap also disrupted the short-term air-pollution relief measure of making artificial rains to wash away PM2.5 from the air. Central Region Royal Rainmaking Operation Centre’s Rattakorn Warunsukkhasiri revealed that the rainmaking operation, which began on Monday, failed due to the unfavourable weather condition. “The cold air from the North has been stronger this week, reducing moisture in the air to only 30 to 40 per cent and it is impossible to make rain in such weather conditions,” Rattakorn said. “We have to wait until next week until the cold snap weakens before we can try a rainmaking mission again.”


Source :  The Nation Multimedia


Prayut joins fun of Royal winter festival

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Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan yesterday wears a traditional outfit along with other Cabinet members to join the royally initiated winter festival Oon Ai Rak Klay Kwam Nao, at the Royal Plaza and Sanam Suea Pa.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan yesterday wears a traditional outfit along with other Cabinet members to join the royally initiated winter festival Oon Ai Rak Klay Kwam Nao, at the Royal Plaza and Sanam Suea Pa.

national February 15, 2018 01:00

By The Nation

Dressed in period outfits, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday led his Cabinet members and their spouses to attend the royally initiated winter festival, Oon Ai Rak Klay Kwam Nao, at the Royal Plaza and Sanam Suea Pa.


Wearing period costume is the theme of the festival, which features picturesque structures decorated with flowers.

Reflecting royal wishes for Thai people to be joyful and overcome the sadness of the past, as well as to pay tribute to the great achievements of Kings Rama V and King Rama IX, the grounds of Dusit Palace and Sanam Suea Pa have been transformed for the grand exhibition.

Admission is free for the event, which opened last Thursday and will run until March 11. Proceeds from any associated earnings will be donated to royal charity projects.

Source :  The Nation Multimedia