Advance Blog

April 14, 2020
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Headline summary as of 14th April 2020

News

Breaking: A small numbers of people protested at the Finance Ministry requesting that the 5,000 THB stimulus package is not comprehensive and that there have been to many errors in the system, thought the Ministry has claimed earlier that they have been using the artificial intelligence to assist with the registration to minimise flaws. 

Updates related to COVID-19:

  • PM Prayuth said His Majesty the King has offered moral support to everybody joining efforts to prevent COVID-19 transmission. The King said he and Her Majesty the Queen stand ready to help to support their work. The government can ask for their Majesties support at all time.–all media outlet
  • Yesterday, Thailand reported 28 newly confirmed cases and 2 dead. The total number of confirmed cases is at 2,579 and the total death toll is at 40.
  • Media reported that the PM order 9/2020 which seizes the Ministry of Public Health authority in procuring medical kits to be under the jurisdiction of a special committee. A source in the MoPH said the PM order has caused the absolute seizure of procurement. The newly set-up committee has only one medical staff who is the assistant to Minister of the PM office, under DPM Wissanu quota. The source questions the only medical staff’s capability who is a dermatologist by training serving as the secretary to the committee. https://www.nationweekend.com/content/image_news/9565 
  • The Office of the National Water Resources (ONWR) was told that up to 6,255 villages in 24 provinces have already been declared drought-affected areas, while the dams and reserves are only 49% full. Of that, only 26% of the water can actually be used. The drought is forecasted to last until July.

Politics

  • House Speaker Chuan Likphai, 81, is now hospitalised. The doctors have confirmed that he does not contact COVID-19.–all media outlet

Business (kindly supplied by Khun Duangporn and Khun Katherine):

Agriculture

Government Stimulus

  •  Finance Ministry plans to allow disqualified applicants of the 5,000 Baht cash-handout to appeal their cases through the www.เราไม่ทิ้งกัน.com website on 19 April.  The second round of the cash-handout, taking place from 13-14 April, is being given to 300,000 people.

Businesses/SMEs

  •  Board of Investment (BoI) approved additional privileges on 13 April for medical devices and related industries to mitigate the impact of the pandemic outbreak.  Additional incentives include:

(1) In addition to the 3 – 8 year tax holidays, a reduction of 50 percent of corporate income tax will be given to qualified investments in the medical sector for an additional 3 years. Examples include the production of medical devices and parts, the non-woven fabric used as raw materials in the production of medical supplies, diagnostic test kits, drugs, and active pharmaceutical ingredients. Projects must apply for promotion between 1 January and 30 June 2020 and must start production by 31 December 2020. Distribution or donation domestically of at least 50 percent of the output must take place in 2020-2021.

(2) To support the upgrading of existing production lines to manufacture medical devices or parts, import duty is exempted for machinery/equipment imported within 2020.

(3) Additional incentives are available to promote the manufacturing of raw materials that are used to produce medical products. Producer of pharmaceutical-grade alcohol is now entitled to an 8-year corporate income tax exemption.  Manufacturers of non-woven fabric that is used as raw materials for the production of medical masks or medical devices can now enjoy corporate income tax exemption of 5 years, instead of 3 years. https://www.boi.go.th/index.php?page=press_releases_detail&topic_id=125042

  • The Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) speculated that unemployment figure could reach 10 million from the current 7 million if the pandemic lasts for another few months. To soften the impact on businesses, TCC with the private sector representatives presented 12 proposals at the first meeting of the Advisory Committee chaired by the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDC) on 13 April. The next Advisory Committee meeting, set to convene on Monday, will decide on the proposals before forwarding them to PM Prayut and then to the Cabinet for approval.
  • PM Prayut established the Advisory Committee on April 8, with 13 members from the public and private sectors to hear suggestions about the government’s existing measures and how to best apply the 1 trillion Baht in loans as part of the Phase 3 stimulus plan. Bangkok Post Newspaper, 14 April

Infrastructure

  • The State Railway of Thailand will this week ask its board to defer the signing of the 50.6 billion Baht contract, known as Contract 2.3, for the Bangkok Nakhon Ratchasima high-speed railway to October this year. This is attributable to the lack of agreement on the cost of tracks, signalling system and procurement of train carriages.  The 28th Thai-Chinese Joint Committee meeting in which the contract was due to be signed also could not be convened due to the Covid19 pandemic. Bangkok Post newspaper, 14 April

ASEAN/World

  • Leaders from ASEAN+3 countries (China, Japan, and South Korea) is going to hold a teleconference on COVID-19 situation. The leaders are set to endorse the Declaration of the Special ASEAN Summit on COVID-19, including a keystone proposal on the support of the budget acquisition of the ASEAN Fund, proposed by Thailand.–all media outlet
  • Eyes on Earth Inc, a research and consulting company specialising in water, published in a US-government funded study published a study China’s Mekong River dams held back large amounts of water during a damaging drought in downstream countries last year despite China having higher-than-average water levels upstream.–Bangkok Post, Thai Enquirer. 

Australia

  • An Australian national wanted in Australia for sexually abusing a minor in New South Wales has been arrested at his home in Chachoengsao province, where he was living with his Thai wife and her family. He has been living with his wife’s family for 5-6 years. The Crime Suppression Division said the arrest had been requested by the Australian embassy in Thailand. The suspect will be extradited to Australia under the 1911 extradition agreement between then-Siam and the United Kingdom. Australia does not have an extradition treaty with Thailand, but as a member of the British Commonwealth, it can employ the old treaty.–Bangkok Post, Thai Rath, Matichon
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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