Thai PM says floods costs to top USD 3.3bn

Thai government said floodwaters ravaging provinces just north of Bangkok had begun receding for the first time.

Bangkok: The Thai premier on Sunday said
reconstruction from massive floods swamping vast swathes of
the country is expected to cost the government over USD 3.3
billion -- a fifth more than previously estimated.

Fears for the capital Bangkok appeared to have eased as
authorities battled to contain Thailand`s worst flooding in
decades, which has claimed over 300 lives, swallowed homes and
shut down industry.

But Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra warned: "The
original budget to support the recovery of both the industrial
and agricultural sectors is not likely to be enough."

Speaking at the disaster response headquarters at Don
Muang Airport in northern Bangkok, she said the budget, which
does not include water management costs, was now expected to
exceed 100 billion baht (USD 3.3 billion).

The previous budget was USD 2.6 billion.
Three months of heavy rains have deluged about one third
of Thailand`s provinces, with floods -- several metres deep in
places -- forcing tens of thousands of people to seek refuge
in shelters.

The flooding has waterlogged major roads and hundreds of
factories, disrupting production of cars, electronics and
other goods in the kingdom, with another major industrial
estate succumbing to the floods on Monday.

Finance Minister Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala said the
floods across the country were likely to cut economic growth
this year by up to 1.7 percent, according to estimates from
the Bank of Thailand and the National Economic and Social
Development Board.

The previous estimate was 0.9 percent.

Forecasters at the University of the Thai Chamber of
Commerce have estimated the cost of the floods to the Thai
economy at about 150 billion baht ($4.9 billion) -- roughly
1.3-1.5 percent of annual gross domestic product.

Thailand today gave the go ahead to a hefty minimum wage
hike, Labour Minister Phadermchai Sasomsab said, although
it postponed the measure until April 2012 in response to pleas
from the flood-hit industrial sector.

Yingluck apologised for authorities` inability to protect
Navanakorn industrial estate after water overwhelmed defences
at the site, which houses over 200 factories for local and
foreign firms and employs nearly 200,000.

Hundreds of locals helped soldiers trying to protect the
estate -- Thailand`s oldest -- with sandbags but were told to
evacuate as water began pouring into the area in Pathum Thani
province, located near Bangkok.


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