Continuing tension worries top banker

Continuing tension worries top banker
KBank Chairman Banthoon Lamsam

As anti-government protests drag on, some top businesspeople are voicing concerns about the potential damage to regional competitiveness and the all-important tourism industry, but at least one rating agency says there is no reason to panic yet.

Kasikornbank chairman Banthoon Lamsam deplored the inability of the country's leaders to do anything but argue with one another, especially as the ASEAN Economic Community era nears.

He compared the endless political tension to burning the country down. While the short-term impact is the sell-off of stocks and bonds, in the long term the world may come to believe that the country has a management problem.

"The current political situation is a risk that the private sector is unable to hedge," he said.

He added that those with authority in both the government and the opposition should act on a rational basis and not demonstrate through rallies. Dissolving the House of Representatives or resignations will not solve this conflict, only acceptable rules that function in the real world.

Meanwhile, Thai Airways International says the rising political tension is a major risk to its final-quarter financial performance. Although there is no sign yet of cancelled incoming flight reservations, the national carrier will keep monitoring the situation, said Chokchai Panyayong, senior executive vice president for commercial operations.

Domestically, he said it was likely that the main impact would be postponed travel plans by government officials, who form a large market.

Chokchai said the first nine months of the year had been a hard time for all business sectors, including aviation, which has faced high competition, the global economic uncertainty, and a fluctuating foreign-exchange rate. Therefore it is essential for THAI to keep a close watch on these additional risks.

In the current quarter, THAI has kept on strengthening its internal operations via cost-saving programmes and also has a strategy to cope with the fast-changing business environment, he said.

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