News from Bangkok: 26 March 2012

While Toshiba is planning to build a new plant (because the old one got damaged during the floods of 2011), this time in a different, less flood-prone location, 32 provinces in Thailand are now suffering from drought.

Meanwhile, the Thai Ministry of Transport is promising free car inspections till April 12. Why? Because they want to reduce the number of accidents on Thailand’s roads during the songkran festival season.

More people die on Thailand’s road during the four-day holiday than during a comparable time-frame in war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

That’s a pretty bad statistic, and if you want the concrete numbers, there are here:

During the seven deadly days of Songkran,  last year, road accidents killed 271 people nationwide, down 24.93% compared to 361 deaths in 2010, according to the Road Safety Centre data. However, that is the official count and government officials are notorious for fluffing their counts.

During last year’s celebrations road accidents dropped 8.56% from 3,516 to 3,215 accidents. Also, the number of injuries also dropped by 8.57% or from 3,802 to 3,476 injuries.

The single most common cause of fatalities? Drunk driving.

Apart of that, the Thai Finance Ministry raises its growth forecast to around 5.5% (up from 5% earlier this year) and predicted that interest rates will raise.

Thailand’s finance minister, said […] the baht should weaken to a range of 32 to 34 a dollar to help exporters. The currency traded at 30.78 today.

However, whether that’s based on plans or wishful thinking is not clear.

And the World Bank has released a report that states that skills shortages have become Thailand’s biggest obstacle to doing business and they’ve published a couple of recommendations on how to improve this situation.