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Leaders bullish on post-flood prospects

Captains of industry are upbeat about the economic outlook for next year, given that the private and state sectors will spend massively on restoring infrastructure hit by the flooding, which will in turn create jobs and boost growth.

Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi, president and chief executive officer of Thai Beverage, yesterday said he agreed with remarks made last week by Charoen Pokphand chairman Dhanin Chearavanont, who said the economy would expand quite dramatically because of strong rehabilitation packages from both the government and business sectors, which would create much investment and expenditure, construction work and employment.

“The massive flooding has had a direct impact on the business sector in terms of performance and capability. However, the flood situation is getting better and if there is no change, the business sector will be back to normal within one or two weeks,” said Thapana.

“As a business sector, we have learned much from the disaster in terms of preparation, such as risk management. During the flooding, we have seen Thai people pull together to get through this difficult time,” he added.

The ThaiBev chief said the crisis had also presented the company with a good opportunity.

“We have had less production capacity at our major beverage plants in Bang Ban and Wang Noi districts in Ayutthaya, but instead have seen a great opportunity to outsource our beer and other beverage production to other manufacturers in the region through original-equipment-manufacturing contracts. The strategy is also in line with the Asean Economic Community, which will be fully effective in 2015,” said Thapana.

Somprasong Boonyachai, chairman of the group executive committee of Shin Corp, said he believed the economy would still grow next year, given that the private and public sectors would spend massively in restoring infrastructure, which would spark job creation and consumption.

GMM Grammy chairman Paiboon Damrongchaitham said the company estimated it would miss its profit target of Bt200 million for the current quarter because of the floods. Overall business in the first quarter of next year also remains at risk, thanks to consumer companies and key advertisers having to focus on recovering their business and factories.

However, Paiboon believes that in the next quarter, business will bounce back because of government spending to support people in affected areas, while firms should by then be able to restart operations.

Sompol Chaisiriroj, director of marketing at ICC International, said the company believed the economy would still be in positive territory next year and that all flood-affected companies would undertake urgent rehabilitation, which would create investment and jobs.

“The massive flooding has sent a very clear signal to all businesses that they have to prepare effectively for any change caused by natural disasters, which will be more severe each year. Risk management becomes a must-strategy for any enterprise,” said Sompol.

Teerapong Chansiri, president of Thai Union Frozen Products (TUF), said that as the company relied heavily on exports, it had been less affected by the flooding.

“We are quite optimistic on the growth potential of food exports next year, as the crises in both the US and Europe [will by then] have passed.”

Teerapong said the domestic economy would enjoy dramatic growth, as all flood-affected companies would undertake major investment in business restoration. The government will spend a great deal of money on rehabilitating the country’s infrastructure and launching measures to help people affected by the flooding, he added.

Isara Wongkusolkij, president of Mitr Phol Sugar Group, said the government and the private sector would conduct restoration packages after the flood water receded, and that consumer confidence would then improve dramatically.

Besides ThaiBev, GMM Grammy, TUF, Mitr Phol Sugar and ICC, seven other leading businesses – Bangkok Bank, Central Pattana, True Corp, BTS Group Holdings, Major Cineplex Group, Muang Thai Life Assurance and Advanced Info Service – yesterday joined in the first flood-relief campaign ever conducted through the strong synergy of enterprises in a wide range of sectors.

The “Power of Thai” campaign aims to raise about Bt100 million for the rehabilitation of flood-hit schools.

Source: The Nation

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