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Controversial business bills left to next govt

Thailand's first ever retail business law and the amended Foreign Business Act (FBA) will definitely fall into the hands of the new government, as the relevant House committees yesterday announced an end to their responsibility for pushing the two bills forward.

Published on December 19, 2007

"The drafts drew huge opposition and it will be the next government's responsibility to support the bills as both the Retail Business Bill and the FBA's amendment are essential for the country," said Commerce Minister Krirk-krai Jirapaet.

The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) announced it would end its task by this Friday, before the December 23 national election.

Krirk-krai said that all the government could do for now is utilise existing acts to control retail and foreign business in the country. However, it must be accepted that the current laws, including the city planning and building code law, are inefficient. Many small retailers have suffered as a result of the expansion of giant retailers.

A source from the Retail Business Bill House committee said they were very surprised by the cancellation of Tuesday's meeting. The source said Wissanu Krea-ngam, chairman of the panel, had cancelled the meeting for a second time, saying that National Legislative Assembly chairman Meechai Ruchupan had ordered an end to any further consideration of the drafts as it was now too close to the general election.

Last week, Wissanu also cancelled a key meeting one hour before it was scheduled.

"Wissanu said the cancellation of the retail bill's rectification was because the NLA has to consider many more important laws," said the source.

Internal Trade Department director-general Yanyong Phuangrach said he was very disappointed. The department hopes the new government will support the retail bill, though there is little chance of this as it will consist of many parties and it will be difficult to find a consensus.

Yanyong said his agency would call for an urgent meeting with retail giants and small retailers next week, the goal being an agreement to continue to operate businesses based on fairness for all involved.

A representative of the Retail Business Coordinating Centre said thousands of affected small retailers were considering filing a petition to the NLA, as they believe it should maintain its responsibility until the end of its term.

The assembly must do its best to push through the retail legislation, which is in its second reading, the representative.

If the NLA seriously considers the benefit of the general population as its first priority, it must continue with its responsibility until the last minute, the representative added.

Petchanet Pratruangkrai

 The Nation


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