Advance Blog

April 21, 2020
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Headline summary as of 21st April 2020

News

  • Thailand began vaccinating some 4,000 horses on Monday in a bid to contain the spread of the deadly African Horse Sickness (AHS), a disease that only affects horses and other equine animals.–Reuters, Bangkok Post, Prachachart, Than Settakij
  • Seven soldiers on Monday confessed to having tortured two men to force them to admit to drug trafficking. One of the two men died and relatives filed a complaint with local police on Sunday.–all media outlet
  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • After the cabinet meeting, the PM said in a press conference that regarding the proposition to re-open the businesses, we need to be careful since it would make all the efforts be in vain. He also said that the decision whether to extend the emergency decree will be made in the weekly cabinet meeting next week. Statistics and public health factors are dominant in making the decision. 
    • Today, Thailand reports 19 newly confirmed cases, the lowest within a month, making the total of 2,811 confirmed cases. The MoPH reports one more new dead, a death toll of 48.
    • The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has renewed the ban on sales of alcoholic beverages until the end of April. The earlier ban was aimed to curb the transmission during the festive Songkran festival where most provinces followed suit.
    • At a meeting of the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Monday, one of the agenda was the government will likely extend the emergency decree for another month as it weighs up when to ease the current restrictions and allow some businesses to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic. A source in the meeting said that the extension of the emergency decree will not be on the agenda of today’s cabinet meeting.
    • Bangkok police have pressed charges against food donors after their charitable handouts near Hua Lamphong railway station allegedly failed to comply with measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Politics

  • Coalition parties, mainly the Democrat and younger MPs of the Bunjaithai Party, submitted a letter to the Ministry of Finance requesting how the government is planning to spend the 1.9 trillion THB loans which have been published in the Royal Gazette.–Manager, Thai Rath
  • Krungthep Turakij ran an article about the power struggle between the PM and coalitions parties. There are rumours about the PM might exploit the rising popularity amidst the COVID-19 response to dissolve the parliament and gain more seats for the main Palang Pracharat Party. However, it is more likely that the PM will resign from the position (and get voted back to the position again) and rearrange the cabinet portfolios to reflect the increased numbers of Bhumjaithai Party MPs and decreased MPs from the Jurin-clique Democrat Party. 

Business

Trade/Export

  • Export in March saw the highest growth in 8 months, at 4.17 percent and valued at 22.4 billion USD due to the expansion of industrial good export and processed agricultural goods.   Export growth from January to March is 0.91 percent, valued at 62.7 billion USD.  Although import in March grew by 7.25 percent, import still contracted by 1.95 percent in the first three months of this year, valued at 58.7 billion USD.  For March, Thailand saw a trade surplus of 1.6 billion USD. Source:  https://www.thansettakij.com/content/Macro_econ/430766?fbclid=IwAR3W8uJp_KVL1Agk979my4SkYMAImhNe9It0dzu5_p1MmtWSHiNmKKamA4w


Social Security Compensation

  • The Social Security Office gave out compensation payments to 8,000 formal workers who became jobless due to the pandemic outbreak on 20 April.  A total of 800,000 formal workers had applied for the compensation, of which half have passed the criteria and the rest needs verification from the employer.  The formal workers receive 62 percent of their daily wage for 90 days from the SSO. Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1903735/covid-19-aid-reaches-8-000-who-lost-jobs


Cash-Hand out

  • The Finance Ministry will not provide blanket cash handout to all households as proposed by the 20 parliament members from three coalition parties.   MoF dismissed the proposal as impractical as not all segments of society are affected or need financial aids.
  • As of noon yesterday, 740,000 applicants have launched an appeal through its online website.  The closing date for the online appeal has not been set. Source:  Bangkok Post newspaper, 21 April
  • As of 17 April, 23.5 million people applied for the cash-handout.  Of this figure, 4.2 million people were approved to receive the cash; 6.3 million are required to submit additional information and 10.6 million are disqualified.
  • Of the 10.6 million disqualified applicants, 6 million are farmers; 700,000 are students and 920,000 are registered with the Social Security system.  However, students whose part-time jobs are affected by Covid19 are eligible to receive the cash.
  • MoF admitted that it has no previous database on freelance workers.  It is taking this opportunity to build up its database of freelancers at the same time as verify their information by conducting site-visits.  It admitted that this is a difficult task. Source:  Ministry of Finance press conference, 20 April
  • The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) proposed that the new land and buildings tax be postponed for a year from the original implementation date of August this year.  The FTI raised this proposal, along with a suite of other proposals, at its second meeting of the Advisory Committee to PM Prayut yesterday.
  • FTI also called for the government to suspend electricity payments for SMEs and households for 4 months following its meeting with the National Economic and Social Development Council yesterday.  FTI also suggested the setting up of a fund to support tourism and hotels through a private equity trust. Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1903760/delay-on-land-and-building-tax-urged   https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1903895/fti-calls-for-power-bills-to-be-suspended

Gold Trade

  • A gold shop (Tong Mae Tong Sook) reported that its gold stock increased by 10 folds or 200-300 percent in the past two weeks since the gold price has soared to an 8 year-high.  It triggered the people to trade gold for cash in mass.  Noteworthy is the fact that most trade gold ornament rather than gold bars for cash to compensate for their loss of income at this critical time.   This is causing liquidity problems for some gold shops.  The export of gold in April is expected to drop by 50 percent as airports are shut, airlines cease their flight and the centres for gold trading are under lockdown. Source:  https://www.prachachat.net/finance/news-451593
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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