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UN event in Thailand focuses on strategies to curb opium cultivation

The six-day meeting offers participating experts an opportunity to compare best practices and explore whether the legal economy can successfully challenge and replace illegal economies, according to UNODC. The event, which is taking place in the town of Chian Rai, was organized by Antonio Maria Costa, the head of the UNODC, and Phongthep Thepkanjana, the Thai Minister of Justice.Thailand, which has a high level of success rate in alternative development, is the first country in the world to succeed in the sustainable elimination of opium cultivation, according to the UNODC. “The heart of the Golden Triangle sends an important message out to the rest of the world that alternative development is the only way ahead to combat illicit activities from inside, working on farmers’ well-being rather than on their fears, in a sustainable way,” said Mr. Costa in a statement.”Unless alternative development initiatives are launched, these farmers risk hunger and then humanitarian disaster. Now is the moment for nations and counter-drug agencies around the world to join together in the kind of global partnerships we need to bring alternative development projects to regions and people still held hostage by narco-economies,” he added.Thailand’s victory of opium cultivation was the result of 30 years of developing projects in the nation’s highlands, when UNODC and the international community worked hand in hand with the Thai Government to offer poor ethnic minority villagers and farmers economic alternatives to drug crops, UNODC said.The country has been opium-free since 1993. In less than a decade, both Laos and Myanmar (the two other members of the so-called Golden Triangle) have reduced opium production by 74 percent.The UN estimates that about 4 million people worldwide depend on income derived from the cultivation of illicit drug crops, including coca and opium. In most cases, these growers live below the poverty level, with 50 percent of their income earned from drug-crops cultivation. read more

Full OFT approval for Motor Codes Service and Repair

Motor Codes has received full OFT approval for its Service and Repair Code, meaning that subscribing garages can now display the OFT logo alongside the Motor Codes tick, to further reassure motorists.Three years on from the inception of the Service and Repair Code, developed following the effectiveness of the OFT-approved New Car Code in reducing consumer complaints, this endorsement demonstrates continued confidence in the self-regulation consumer codes model.Underlining the importance of this backing, Colin Brown, Director of Consumer Policy at OFT, describes the move as, “one of the most important developments in consumer protection in car service and repair for many years.”A sentiment echoed by Chris Mason, Motor Codes Managing Director, “The Service and Repair Code was introduced at the request of government to deal with its continued prominence in complaint statistics and set out to improve standards and raise consumer confidence.  This announcement sends a clear message that we offer a comprehensively backed code of practice and our network of garages delivers real peace of mind for the consumer.”Consumer feedback is central to the Motor Codes operation and each customer is encouraged to rate the quality of service received – visible online to potential garage customers.  This open, customer-facing review system was a key factor in fulfilling OFT requirements.“Motor Codes has demonstrated a commitment to transparency and scrutiny amongst its members, making it simpler for motorists to make an informed choice”, added Colin Brown.To date, in excess of 25,000 motorists have submitted reviews, all visible on the Motor Codes website.Standards for Motor Codes garages are upheld through a combination of regular RAC Compliance Checks and the support of a structured advice and conciliation service, with a team of independent customer service professionals on hand to offer advice both to motorists and garages.  Where things do go wrong, a three stage intermediary process, consisting of Fast Track resolution, conciliation and legally biding arbitration is implemented to administer a fair solution for all parties.Emphasising the effectiveness of this service and its value to businesses and customers, of all conciliation cases to date in 2011, over 30% have been resolved as Fast Track – meaning that solutions are brokered swiftly, while a customer’s car is still in the garage.Further information about Motor Codes and its codes of practice can be found at www.motorcodes.co.uk. Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) read more