The seven industrial estates that have been hit by severe flooding are expected to need loans of at least Bt5 billion to build barriers to prevent future flooding.
Commerce Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said at a meeting yesterday with the Board of Investment, Federation of Thai Industries, Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand, Strategic Partners Association and the Industry Ministry, it had been decided businesses would be given soft loans to build flood barriers.
According to estimates, up to Bt5 billion would be needed for building permanent barriers with corrugated concrete sheet piles around the seven industrial estates, which cover a total area of 200 kilometres.
Nipit Arunvongse na Ayudhya, managing director of Navanakorn Public Co, the operator of the Nava Nakorn Industrial Estate, confirmed that at least Bt5 billion to Bt6 billion would be needed to build 6.5metrehigh flood barriers around the seven estates to protect them in the future. He added that since each kilometre of the wall would cost between Bt25 million and Bt30 million, Nava Nakorn would need around Bt600 million to protect its 20km area.
He said the company wanted the government to foot the cost, though he admitted that this would be unlikely.
“The severe flooding has been caused partly by bad management, so we think the government should help pay for the flood-prevention system,” he said.
Khajohnsak Mahakunwan, adviser to the Rojana Industrial Park, agreed the government should cover the cost of the flood barriers, because the estates would need to invest up to Bt2 billion each and they may not be able to borrow the money from the banks.
He said Rojana Industrial Park, which covers 64km – the largest among industrial parks – would be left with a huge financial burden if the government did not help out. He said the company had no choice but to turn to the banking sector, but the problem was that banks did not consider a flood-barrier system as collateral.
Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, chairperson of the Bangkadi Industrial Park, said the estate had yet to decide on the flood-protection system it wanted to invest in, and that it was seeking advice from flood-management experts with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), especially since most of the businesses were Japanese.
She added that the estate was ready to cover the costs itself because the government was only offering soft loans.
“Investing in a flood-prevention system is a must because we have to restore foreign investors’ confidence. However, the government also has to invest in a long-term water-management system,” she said.
Meanwhile, the commerce minister said funding should not be a problem for the industrial estate operators because the government would provide them with soft loans.
In related news, officials will start pumping water out from the affected industrial estates from November 15, and it would take at least 15 to 20 days to clean up. Factories should start operating by late December or early January.
Most factories in the Bang Chan Industrial Estate temporarily suspended their operation yesterday because water was seen seeping in. The estate has 93 factories and employs up to 13,800 people.
The industrial estates that have been inundated so far cover 891 factories, employ up to 460,000 workers and have a combined investment value worth Bt585.3 billion.
Kittiratt yesterday insisted the government would continue its policy to hike the daily minimum wage to Bt300, starting from April next year. The increased wage will help stimulate the country’s economy as a whole, the commerce minister said.
Once workers had better incomes, both private enterprise and the domestic economy would benefit following the floods that had dampened Thai economic growth, Kittiratt said.
Source: The Nation