Govt offers B25bn industrial recovery plan

The government is to propose a 25-billion-baht recovery programme aimed at allowing seven flooded industrial estates to resume operations within 45 days after the floodwaters recede.

The state would also be prepared to buy out troubled industrial estates such as Saharatnakorn and develop a new flood-proof industrial zoning plan for companies and worker housing.

This will run in parallel with medium-term investments in water management and flood prevention programmes aimed at preventing future flooding, with the current crisis estimated to have cost as much as 400 to 500 billion baht. The plans will be considered by cabinet ministers today.

Deputy Prime Minister and commerce Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said a comprehensive rebuilding strategy is needed to help affected industrial zones and companies hit by the floods.

He said an initial budget of 25 billion baht would be set with the aim of helping companies in seven affected industrial zones restart operations within 45 days after the flooding eases. Funding would also be used to help displaced workers return to work.

High-speed water pumps from Japan, China and Europe would help reduce water levels in affected industrial zones in Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani.

The state-owned SME Bank would also offer loan guarantees of up to 30% for companies seeking commercial loans to help finance rebuilding and the replacement of their machinery.

“We are already in the fourth quarter of the year. We are racing against the clock. Rebuilding will take many weeks, and we have to finish before the start of the next rainy season in May,” Mr Kittiratt said.

“With every day, the damage increases. We have to start now.”

The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce estimated on Sunday that losses from the disaster could reach as high as 500 billion baht if authorities are unable to prevent widespread flooding within inner Bangkok. Industrial losses alone are estimated at over 381 billion baht.

As it is, economic losses have been massive, with nearly one-third of the country under water, nearly one million people unemployed and the death toll at 356 and climbing.

In Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani, floodwaters remain over two metres deep in some places, with major roads across in the affected areas all closed. The closure of major industrial estates such as Rojana, Hi-Tech and Nava Nakorn has affected local, regional and even global production for firms such as Honda, Canon, Sony and Toshiba.

Economic ministers yesterday agreed to set up working committees with representatives of the seven affected industrial estates, industry groups, the Board of Investment and the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT).

Mr Kittiratt said a “war room” for the committees would be set up at Chamchuri Square to help develop action plans.

He said the goal is to draw up a master plan to prevent future flooding disasters. Foreign experts would be consulted to help consider necessary basic infrastructure and flood protection systems to safeguard the country’s industrial heartland.

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