Advance Blog

May 11, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headline summary as of 11th May 2020

News

  • Today, Thailand reported 6 new cases, a total number of 3,015 cases. Out of the total number, 2,796 have discharged from hospital, 163 are being hospitalized. The death toll is at 56.
  • National Security Council (NSC) secretary-general shared his thoughts with Bangkok Post on the post-COVID-19 scenario.—Bangkok Post
  • Nida poll released the result of a poll conducted on 4-7 May, asking people’s opinion whether they agree with the lock-down easing measures. The result shows that 34.39 totally agree, citing the number of daily infection has reduced drastically. 49.56 are somewhat agree; 9.93 are somewhat disagree and 6.04 percent are totally disagree.—all media outlet
  • Media is reporting on “Pantry of Sharing” project, through which a group of volunteer share non-perishable food items and basic hygiene supplies, including feminine hygiene products, toothpaste and toilet paper, to others who are in need during the outbreak.—all media outlet

Politics

  • Last night, there was a light projection of a phase “#finding the truth” appeared on the venue where there was a crackdown of red-shirt protestors during Abihisit government. The venues include CBD BTS Siam Station, a temple nearby which turned to be a ‘live fire zone’, Ministry of Defense. It is unknown who or which organization did the light projection. Yesterday marked 10 years since the crackdown, there is no legal case against the authority.—The Reporters
  • The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) defended its plan to use 4,600 rai of protected forest near U-Tapao airbase in Chon Buri, saying the land is needed as a security buffer against plans for a full-fledged U-Tapao commercial airport, which will be built nearby. Official said the media and critics have misunderstood the issue, referring to reports which claim the Navy wants to gain control of the forest tract to safeguard its investments, especially along the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).—all media outlet
  • A staunch royalist M.C. Julajerm Yugala posted on his Facebook page saying that the authority in the Northeastern province of Maha Sarakham should do something with the ‘disgraceful’ act.—Thai Post. He referred to an incident reported on social media, without any mention by conventional media that the portrait of the King on the cross over in downtown Maha Sarakham province was set on fire at the middle of the day. Authority suspected it is due to short circuit.

Business:

Ministry of Labour

  • The Labour Ministry will not propose to the cabinet the 75-percent daily wage compensation hike for workers affected by the pandemic due to strong resistance from labour activists.  Opposition said it is wrong to take all the money from the 160-billion Baht Social Security Fund to help only workers affected by the pandemic, since its real objective is to help all unemployed people. 
  • The proposed 75 percent hike would also allow employers to circumvent the Labour Protection Law.  Under Section 75 of the law, when a company must temporarily suspend part or all of its business operations during the financial hardship, it must pay employees 75 percent of their regular daily wages during this period.   Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1915760/75-wages-compo-plan-put-on-hold
  • A Labor Ministry announcement published in the Royal Gazette website stated that company owners and employees are prohibited from colluding in shutting down their business while the emergency decree is in force. Effective from May 8, the announcement also ordered those owners who had closed their business prior to immediately reopen their business.  Source:  National News Bureau of Thailand fb page, 10 May 2020

Stimulus Package

  • The Finance Ministry will offer special savings bonds worth 50 billion Baht to the public as part of the government’s 1-trillion Baht borrowing plan.  The bonds comprise 5-year and 10-year maturities, with average coupon rate of 2.4 percent and 3 percent, respectively.  They yield high returns than the 5-year and 10-year bonds available in the market by 150 and 180 basis points, respectively.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1915056/finance-ministry-to-issue-savings-bonds-soon
  • DPM Somkid has ordered the Ministry of Finance to set aside 200 billion Baht from the 400 billion Baht borrowing plan allocated for rehabilitating domestic economy to combat the potential second wave of pandemic outbreak.  The 400 billion Baht borrowing plan will be submitted to cabinet’s agenda for their consideration this week. 
  • The government’s economic consulting team forecasts that the Thai economy will face its worst slump in Q2, with the GDP contracting by over 10 percent.  The number of employed people will fall by 500,000 in Q2 compared to Q1.  Therefore the government has to boost its spending and public investment by 15 percent (300 – 400 billion Baht) per quarter for the rest of this year.
  • The Thai Bankers’ Association estimated that Thailand would lose 1.3 trillion Baht, or 7.7 percent of GDP from the pandemic.  Of the damage, 1.1 trillion Baht would be from tourism.
  • The Bank of Agriculture and Cooperative will seek from the government a 55 billion Baht budget under the 1 trillion Baht borrowing plan to rehabilitate the farming sector.

Others

  • Consumer confidence in April is the lowest in 21 years, according to the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC).  Consumer Confidence Index in April fell to 47.2 last month from 50.3 in March.  It is the 14th straight monthly decline and the lowest level since October 1999.  UTCC speculates that if the government further eases the lockdown on May 17, it will generate an additional 6-8 billion Baht in daily spending.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1915052/consumer-confidence-lowest-since-1999

Australia

  • The Asia Foundation, DFAT and our embassy launched Thailandlearning.org, a new online learning portal for 13 million Thai students and educators impacted by the Covid-19 crisis.—Siam Rath
  • Police crack downed 150 protestors who assembled in front of the Victoria Parliament to protest government’s lock down measures. There was one official who get hurt from the crack-down.—Thai News Agency
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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