THAILAND: Rubber agencies to unite into single organisation

Newly appointed Deputy Agriculture Minister Natthawut Saikua said he will push for a Rubber Act to create a single agency responsible for the development of the rubber industry.

The three current agencies are the Rubber Research Institute of Thailand, the Office of the Rubber Replanting Aid Fund and the Rubber Estate Organisation.

The idea was raised several years ago, and the cabinet approved a law in 2010 that later passed its first reading in parliament.

Pongsak Kerdvongbundit, president of the Thai Rubber Association, said combining the three organisations into a one-stop agency would accelerate the implementation of policies, offer price stability and reduce duplication.

Luckchai Kittipol, honorary president of the association, suggested the agency include supervisors of downstream producers such as users of latex and rubber wood to ensure problems will be taken care of for the whole production process.

A public hearing for all stakeholders was encouraged to make sure the agency benefits every party, particularly as Thailand is the world's largest rubber exporter.

Uthai Sonluksub, president of the Natural Rubber Council of Thailand, said the National Economic and Social Advisory Council used to propose such integration, but the research institute was unwilling to join, as it is a government agency while the other two are state-run enterprises.

The agency should be run as a state enterprise with professional executives, but farmers want it to consider their input when issuing any measure.

The government set a goal to increase the price of smoked rubber sheet to 120 baht a kilogramme. Yesterday (26 Jan. 2012) it was 118 baht a kg.

Source: Daily "Bangkok Post", Bangkok; 27 Jan 2012

(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)