Advance Blog

April 17, 2020
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Headline summary as of 17th April 2020

News

  • Issues related to COVID-19:
    • As for today, there are 28 newly confirmed cases, total confirmed cases are at 2,700. Out of the total number, one more reported dead and total death toll is at 47.
    • A rock singer who has been long been known for being hard-line conservative replied to a comment of his fan club lamenting about the economic hardship and that people might need to commit suicide because of debt by saying that she should ‘just die’. He cited Darwinism in the COVID-19 situation where only the strong will survive. Later his post received criticisms and he said that he will sue back everyone who criticised him.
    • The national committee on communicable diseases is urging Muslims across the country to follow guidelines on Covid-19 prevention throughout the coming holy fasting month of Ramadan, which will be from 24, 25 April to 23, 24 May. – Bangkok Post
    • With the effect of COVID-19, the Army said far too few conscripts are staying on in the military this year. Of the 42,000 conscripts due to be discharged at the end of this month, only 5,460 have signed up to remain in the military for another year. A source said the army could suffer a manpower problem after Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha earlier issued an order deferring the annual conscription period from April 1-11 to July 26-Aug 23.— Bangkok Post

Politics

  • The PM apologised people for his ‘miscommunication’ earlier on when he said that the 5,000 THB scheme could last for a month since the government does not have enough budget to cover that. The government needs to get the loans decree to cover the scheme, but the PM has assured the people that the budget is sufficient. Before the apology, a lot of people said they felt as if they were tricked by the government; some pointed out government inconsistency.—all media outlet
  • AP runs an article “Some leaders use pandemic to sharpen tools against critics” citing the example of Thailand, Cambodia, Hungary, the Philippines among others. As for Thailand, the case of an artist who travelled back from Spain who posted on FB about the lack of medical screen once returned to Thailand was arrested for violating the Computer Crime Act.
  • Matichon Weekly runs a special report on PM Prayut’s increased popularity from the somewhat successful measures in curbing COVID-19. But the report points out that the PM decision to scrap the arm forces procurement plans, particularly the Navy’s submarine procurement might stir conflict between the PM and Deputy PM Prawit who has been pushing for Chinese submarines since its inception.
  • Gen Preecha Chan-o-cha, the PM’s brother, has been appointed as a member of the Senate’s tourism committee to fill in a vacant seat. The announcement was published in the Royal Gazette.–all media outlet
  • Yesterday, the Ministry of Digital Economy has arrested 9 people for posting ‘inappropriate information’ on the internet, mostly fake news about government policy and COVID-19 situation. The Ministry will arrest 50 FB pages more for doing the same things.—Naew Na

Business

  • The Director-general of International Trade Promotion, Ministry of Commerce said due to the COVID-19 crisis which render people to be at home, Thai food flavouring market in the first 2 months of 2020 increased by 18% from the same period last year. Thailand became the 3rd biggest food flavouring exporter, next to the US and China. Thailand ranked 6th last year.—Matichon
  • Stimulus Package
    • PM Prayut apologised for his miscommunication a day earlier and insisted that the government can provide three months worth of cash-handout.  The payment for the first month would come from the 2020 central budget and unused budget from various ministries. Payments for the second and third months would be financed through borrowing, for which the decree will enable its enforcement in late April or early May. Source:  Royal Thai Government facebook page, 16 April
    • The government’s move to borrow 1 trillion Baht is sizeable; more than double the average annual budget deficit of recent years, according to ANZ.  The Bank of Thailand is exploring mixed instruments to raise the funds and will have to address issues such as bond yield curve control.  Thailand has the biggest Southeast Asian local-currency bond market, worth $446 billion at the end of 2019. Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1901880/big-stimulus-borrowing-could-spur-yield-curve-control
  • Cash-handout
    • The cash-handout online application will close on 22 April at midnight. The first three rounds of cash handout from 8-17 April is worth 16 billion Baht, reaching 3.2 million people.  The total number of applicants is 27.7 million as of 16 April.
    • Appeals opens on 20 April, to be lodged on the same website.  There is no closing date or the appeal.
    • Finance Ministry will verify the appeal cases by conducting site visits nationwide, if necessary.  MoF officers will have to gather evidence by taking 3 pictures of the applicants at their work sites, along with the applicants’ ID card or other supporting evidences such as receipts or licenses. Source:  https://www.mof.go.th/th/files/2019-07-31-16-27-57 , Ministry of Finance’s Press Conference, 17 April
  • The 5,000 Baht cash-handout scheme is placed under review due to a surge in complaints from applicants claiming they were wrongly disqualified from the programme.
  • Students working part-time to support themselves and their families would be included in the 5,000 Baht cash-handout scheme. Since their applications were previously rejected, they can appeal their cases online from 20 April onwards.  Source: https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1901490/prayut-orders-review-of-5k-cash-scheme#cxrecs_s
  • Today the new committee established by the Cabinet to assess the Covid19 relief measures will convene to discuss measures to assist the people who are not eligible for the 5,000 Baht cash hand-out.  The meeting could possibly discuss assistance package for farmers. Source:  Ministry of Finance’s Press Conference, 17 April
  • Some 72 items under 6 categories of goods will be selling at lower prices by 5-58 percent from March 16 to June 30.  The move results from Commerce Minister Jurin’s meeting on Thursday with manufacturers, modern trade operators and department stores.  Minister Jurin said the sales campaign is not related to lower oil price, which reduces manufacturers’ production cost by only 1-3 percent.  Source https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1901505/operators-step-up-to-aid-shoppers
  • Agriculture
  • Logistics
  • Others
    • The Residential Market in the EEC area (Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao) will shrink after a recovery in 2019 due to the pandemic. In the base case scenario, the market will drop by 11.9% in residential transfers to 44,657 units and 21.5% to 78.4 billion Baht in transfer value.  Construction permits for condominiums will drop the most – condo buyers being an indicator of real demand. https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1901820/eec-residential-transfers-likely-to-deflate

ASEAN/World

Australia

  • Ambassador McKinnon Interview with Matichon Weekly is in print. This week’s is about bilateral cooperation in various aspects, including business, EEC, cyber and security.
  • Matichon reports quoting the Thai Embassy in Canberra FB about the Thai Airways repatriation flight (TG 476) SYD—BKK on 26 April 2020 the ticket for economy class is at 1,290 AUD.—Matichon
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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