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Toyota: Water control first order

The government should focus on the flood situation before talking about rehabilitation plans for businesses, says Toyota Motor Thailand (TMT).

“We want the government to solve the flooding first so we can assess the damage. This is affecting not only Thailand, but also [company operations in] Japan and the rest of the world too. Rehabilitation plans can come later,” said President Kyoichi Tanada after a crisis meeting with industry permanent secretary Witoon Simachokdee.

The Industrial Estate Association earlier proposed that the government rehabilitate flood-hit industrial estates within 45 days, although Mr Tanada said that time line would differ for individual factories.

Also suggested was a 25-billion-baht rehabilitation fund set up by the government to provide financial assistance for flood-damaged factories.

Mr Tanada said that while some auto parts could be sourced abroad, production at Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan is slowing down, as it relies mostly on Thai automotive parts.

“A car has 20,000 to 30,000 parts, and production will not be complete if even one part is missing,” he said.

The Thai suspension prompted the parent company to stop overtime work in Japan this week.

Mr Tanada said the suspension has also reduced the company’s production capacity in Asean, as factories throughout the region rely on imported parts from Thailand.”Our parent company understands this is a natural disaster, as we also had to suspend operations for one month due to the [March 11] tsunami. But we want the water to go down as soon as possible,” he said.

Ninnart Chaithirapinyo, a TMT vice-chairman, said this month’s domestic production and sales will decline to 16,000 units, down from a previous estimate of 40,000.

Thailand’s largest automobile manufacturer is facing the worst damage in the sector, and the situation is causing a delay in orders.

“I think customers will understand. No one is buying cars now anyway, as they don’t know where they would park them,” said Mr Ninnart.

TMT will pay full salaries to all 12,000 workers on the production line.

Meanwhile, Shiori Hasimoto, a spokeswoman for the parent company in Aichi prefecture, said Toyota Corporation would evacuate the families of its expat employees in Thailand.

The company will pay for the move, which applies to families with school-age children, she said, adding that the 200 expat staff themselves will remain.

Source: Bangkok Post

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