October 13, 2011 by staff
“The damage has not been arrested,” Deputy Prime Minister Na-Ranong Kittiratt said today. “It has been widely disseminated. The government and all agencies involved are working to limit damage to the manufacturing sector and the economy.”
The crisis of three months old, has submerged towns and rice fields, companies such as Toyota Motor Corp. forced to close factories and ledanlysts to cut estimates for Thailand’s economic expansion. 9.7 million Bangkok residents are hoarding rice, instant noodles and bottled water, and the purchase of sandbags as they prepare to protect their homes.
A “huge amount of water” flowing from the northern provinces and the maximum predicted tides from October 14-17 and October 28 to 31 will test the barrier defending the capital, the center of the floods the government.
The costs are likely to increase from a previous estimate indicating that the catastrophe can compare the economic growth by 0.6 percentage points and 0.9 percentage points, Kittiratt said.
The damage bill may rise to 156.7 billion baht (5.1-billion) and slow growth by 1.3 percentage points to 1.5 percentage points, from the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said today.
The university, a private institution established by the camera, now expects the economy to grow 3 percent to 3.5 percent this year. Consumer confidence fell to a four-month low in September, a report showed today.
“Do not underestimate the floods,” said Energy Minister Pichai Naripthaphan yesterday in an interview. “Anything can happen with the power of water. We must be prepared.”
Authorities used helicopters yesterday to supply emergency food to those still stranded in Ayutthaya province, where the water has flooded world heritage temples and paralyzed the operations of Japanese manufacturers, including Nikon Corp. and Pioneer Corp.
The floods have disrupted operations in 930 plants in 28 provinces, the Ministry of Industry, said in a statement. The floods have affected 61 of the 77 provinces.
In Nakhon Sawan, north of Bangkok, the power was reduced to the provincial capital of nearly 100,000 people to prevent electrocutions and increasing floods forced residents to evacuate. That water will reach Ayutthaya between October 14 and 17, when the tides are expected to peak before flowing through the Chao Phraya River to Bangkok, Pracha Promnog, director of the center of the floods, said yesterday.
“The central bank can help the economy by holding your interest rate on 19 October,” said Thanavath Phonvichai, an economist at the university today. “Consumer confidence is in a downtrend. If you can reduce the key interest rate, which will help boost the economy next year.”
The Thailand’s gross domestic product rose 2.6 percent in the second quarter last year, the slowest pace since 2009. A hesitant recovery in the world also poses a threat to the expansion.
In the capital, residents are faced with conflicting warnings from the government, with Defence Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapa saying that “no one can guarantee” Bangkok will be saved, while the national center of the floods, said the city has a 90 percent to avoid damage.
“We can not trust the government,” said Siraprn Nikorata, a nurse of 37 years old, who was buying 10 bags of rice in a supermarket Tesco Plc in the capital. “No one can guarantee what will happen to Bangkok. We have to take care of ourselves first. I have to protect my family.”
Yingluck Shinawatra Prime Minister yesterday urged food producers not to raise prices, as buyers anticipating flood emptied the shelves in Tesco stores and large C Supercenter Pcl in parts of Bangkok.
“People are suffering,” said Yingluck, who took power after his party won the elections in July. “If commodity prices increase, people will try to store more food, creating more problems.”
Officials said that the shortage in some supermarkets are caused by problems of logistics and purchasing in bulk for flood relief rather than a lack of essential goods.
“We ask the public not to panic,” said Permanent Secretary for Commerce Yanyong Phuangrach yesterday.
The flooding has cut roads and rail links in some parts of the country, complicating efforts to transport goods, said Banyat Kamnoonwat, assistant vice president of CP All PCL, which operates 6.002 stores 7-Eleven in the country.
Needs, including rice, water and instant noodles are still available, and the company has stored supplies to meet an expected increase in demand, said yesterday by telephone.
“When consumers see the empty shelves, which intensifies the concerns and grabbing the spurs,” said Somchai P**nrattanacharoen, president of the Association of Wholesale and retail this week. “Increased production by some manufacturers is not sufficient to meet demand, and replenishment of stocks usually takes one to three days.”
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