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Thai floods response sparks anger in Bangkok

Thai floods response sparks anger in Bangkok
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Their homes have been flooded for nearly a month and some people have had enough. Tempers in the Thai capital have been flaring over the government’s handling the flood crisis.

There have been a series of protests involving residents desperate to return to their normal lives.

Some say the government could ease their plight by opening sluice and flood gates to allow more water into the San Seab canal.

Bangkok has been threatened by run-off waters from northern provinces, coinciding with the arrival of high tides.

With many of Bangkok’s poor outlying areas affected, those affected accuse the government of doing more to save the inner commercial business district of the city.

The rise in tensions illustrate the anger in some neighbourhoods that have been sacrificed to keep Bangkok’s centre dry. But the cost of doing so, for now, has created a rift in the heart of the city.

Thailand’s heavy monsoon floods have killed nearly 400 people since July and latest forecasts suggest there will be no improvement for months.

Thailand’s flood costs

Flooding has been hammering Thailand’s economy since July. Bangkok estimates the floods will reduce the country’s income by one percent of GDP. This year was projected to see 3.7 percent growth, but that has been revised to 2.0 percent.

Thailand’s automotive sector is Asia’s busiest, producing and exporting, including parts which are normally sent to Japan and the US. The floods have disrupted this. Some 10,000 factories have had to close, suspending well over 500,000 jobs.

Lin Hong, Senior consultant with Bangkok Bank, said: “With flooding damage to five major industrial parks north of Bangkok we are seeing predictions of as much as ten billion euros of losses.”

Exports represent some 60 percent of Thailand’s income. In the fourth quarter they are projected to fall by around 13 percent, which will probably be felt well into next year, according to industry analysts.

Lin Hong added: “Thai exports will be affected badly in 2012, notably for cars and electronic components.”

Thailand is also among the world’s foremost exporters of rice, if not the first, but now more than a million and a half hectares of paddies are swamped.

The Bangkok government has announced a 30 percent shortfall in projected rice exports for next year.

According to Lin Hong: “Nothing can be grown in Thailand’s rice fields for at least two crop seasons. Thailand has abundant resources and goods production but after the flooding we are considering importing from Malaysia.”

Tourism is the third pillar of the Thai economy which has been battered by flooding. It represents six percent of Thai GDP. Floods have cost it as many as one million tourist visitors this year.

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