Advance Blog

April 1, 2020
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Headline summary as of 1st April 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19
    • As of today, there are reported 120 newly confirmed cases, 1771 total confirmed cases and 12 total deaths.
    • In a brief news conference after the weekly cabinet meeting, the PM has warned that if the current measures could not flatten the infection curb, he is willing to close down all transportation systems, if need be.—all media outlet
    • Nonthaburi province, a part of Greater Bangkok, yesterday imposed a curfew banning people from leaving home between 11pm and 5am until further notice in a fresh bid to stem the surge in coronavirus infections in the province.
    • The cabinet has eased its regulation to allow migrant workers from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, whose work permit might have ended since 25 March 2020, to be able to work in Thailand legally until the emergency decree is enacted.
    • The Ministry of Defence has taken back its 6.1 billion THB proposal to sort out landing cruise for the Royal Thai Navy to accompany the submarine. The proposal was on the weekly cabinet meeting yesterday. The Ministry was under heavy criticism for not taking the difficulty people are facing amidst the COVID-19 crisis. The Navy said earlier yesterday that this proposal has been pushed long before the COVID-19 crisis.
    •  The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) on Tuesday dismissed as untrue reports that it will announce a full lockdown and keep city residents at home in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Earlier last weekend, the Nation Group media reported quoting a source saying that the Bangkok Governor was holding a meeting with related officials on the possible Bangkok lock-down.
    • A dentist has been forced into self-quarantine after one of her patients initially withheld information that he had been among spectators at a Covid-19-spreading boxing event in Bangkok.—Bangkok Post

Politics

  • Sompong Amornwiwat, main opposition Pheu Thai Party’s leader says the opposition parties are willing to cooperate with the government to pass through COVID-19 crisis together.–Matichon
  • Bangkok Post ran an op-ed on “Coronavirus and democracy in Southeast Asia”.

Business (supplied from Daily Economic Summary by Khun Katherine and Khun Duangporn )

Ministry of Transport

  • Passengers are allowed to carry liquid hand sanitizers With a maximum volume not exceeding 350 ml. (12 ounces) per piece on board or into the restricted areas of the airport in an effort to prevent the spread of the COVID-19
  • The closure of Phuket International Airport will take effect at 00:01am on April 10, and continue to April 30. The announcement of the closure of the airport also follows the bridges onto and off the island being locked down as of midnight last night, along with all boats and piers no longer allowed to permit entry except for emergency vehicles and vessels, and vehicles and boats delivering essential consumer goods and medical equipment and supplies.

Ministry of Labour

  • Ministry of Labour’s Social Security Office amends ministerial regulations  that would allow insured persons in the social security system earning less than 5,000 Baht to receive a minimum of 5,000 Baht per month, if their work is affected by COVID-19. The measures are effective from March 1, 2020, for consistency and equality in helping workers who are not in the social security system. The measures will be submitted to the Cabinet for approval on the upcoming Tuesday, March 31.

Supply chain issues

  • Mitsubishi and Toyota are suspending their car assembly lines throughout April.  Mitsubishi will suspend productions at their 3 plants in Laem Chabang (EEC area), Chon Buri province from 1 – 26 April.  The affected employees will be paid 85 percent of their salary.  Toyota will also suspend their 3 assembly lines in Chachoengsao province (EEC area) from 7 – 17 April.  This is in response to the declining local demand and export demand for automobile, as well as the disrupted global supply chain resulting from Covid 19 outbreak.

Export restrictions on essential products /Price gauging/ Food shortages

Effectiveness of Government stimulus packages

  • Ministry of Finance is considering issuing an executive decree to allow the government to borrow 200 billion Baht for its third phase of stimulus package.  This could include appropriating 10 percent of the 1.98 trillion Baht fiscal 2020 budget of each ministry for a central fund, which will be managed by Prime Minister Prayut as empowered by the state emergency decree.  Another funding source is by borrowing from domestic financial institutions.

Other interesting tit bits

  • As part of the government’s phase 2 stimulus plan, the Government Savings Bank has postponed the online registration date for its 20 billion-Baht special and 40 billion Baht emergency loans from 1 April to 15 April.  This is to prevent confusion with the registration for 5,000 Baht cash-handout.  https://www.posttoday.com/finance-stock/news/619269
  • The Ministry of Industry will suspend debt payments for 12 months for SMEs affected by Covid19 outbreak who borrowed monthly from the 20-billion Baht Pracha Rat Fund in a move to control NPL rate. Businesses can apply for debt suspension at SME Development bank from April 10 – 30 June. This will cover 5,600 businesses in the agriculture and processing, retail, services and tourism sectors. Bangkok Post, 31 march
  • An estimated 95 percent of the hotels registered in Thailand, or 30,936 hotels, are expected to earn zero income in April as the lockdown is expanded to several provinces.  Phuket is speculated to experience the greatest loss since 87 percent of its hotels will close in April. Nationwide, the lockdown is anticipated to leave 1.63 million workers in the hospitality sector with no jobs and without support from the government, despite their contribution to the Social Security Fund. To this end, the Thai Hotels Association is urging authorities to officially order the closure of the hotels to ensure employees become eligible for Social Security Fund’s unemployment benefits.  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1889790/april-lockdown-batters-30-000-hotels
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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