Advance Blog

May 28, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headline summary as of 28th May 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports 11 newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,065 cases. Out of the total number, 2,945 have been discharged from hospital; 63 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 57. All newly confirmed cases are returning from overseas and in state quarantine.
    • This morning, the PM is chairing the inner circle of CCSA (security, interior and public health apparatus) to discuss the 3rd phase of easing restrictions and the reduction of curfew hours. Earlier yesterday, the Security Council and other security apparatus could not reach a consensus on the 3rd phase restrictions. Tomorrow, the proposal will be for the whole CCSA board to elaborate. The Secretary-general of the Public Health Ministry said some businesses which have been considered to be at high-risk (cinema and boxing stadiums) will be eased in the upcoming 3rd phase easing.—all media outlet
    • Yesterday in the House debate, the PM defended the executive decree on one trillion loans to cushion the economy from the effects of COVID-19.
      • The loan will be divided into 2 sets (600 and 400 billion):
        • As for the 600 billion THB, just over half of this amount will be set aside as cash relief for millions of people and businesses adversely affected by Covid-19, while 45 billion baht will be used to support public health works.
        •  
        • As for the 400 billion, it will be used to create jobs and revitalise the economy, including plans to revive local and community economy.
    • The Transport Minister said the PM has ordered the Ministry to curb with COVID-19 in case Thailand is re-opening its airspace to welcome international travellers. The Minister said the ministry eyes to sign an MoU with countries which could successfully control COVID-19.—all media outlet
    • After facing criticisms on the complex procedures of “Thai Chana” platforms to trace COVID-19 transmission, the Digital Economy Ministry is aiming to launch an application to simplify the usage.
    • The Songkhla governor on Wednesday ordered the closure of the Padang Besar border checkpoint in Sadao district after the government reported six of nine new coronavirus patients had returned home via this checkpoint.

Politics

  • In a rare exclusive interview with Deputy PM and the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party chief strategist General Prawit, he said that cabinet reshuffle is possible after the Parliament is in its session and the COVID situation eased. He assured that there is no rift within the main ruling party, despite reports on the internal conflicts between the current leadership under DPM Somkid faction and DPM Prawit wing.—Daily News
  • Deputy PM Wissanu defended the government’s extension of security decree to US Ambassador to Thailand, citing the decree would provide nationwide single standard of COVID-19 handles and would allow the government prompt response to lockdown on some businesses.—all media outlet
  • Move Forward Party held a press conference yesterday aiming to impeach main figure in the PPRP and Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat for his wife is the owner of a market which operates on government agencies land and that he was jailed in Australia by NSW Court. The Party has submitted a letter to the House Speaker to seek Constitutional Court advice on the status.—all media outlet
    • Captain Thammanat responded by saying that some actions against him is done by childish and reckless party. He also threatened to file a legal case on defamation against the party in the Southern province of Narathiwat where he also has his residency.
  • King’s Prajadhipok’s Institute published its research on the “The beginning of the establishment of democracy with monarchy as the head of state” (in Thai) is open for download via its website. The researcher traced King Rama 9’s speeches as a speech act to construct the nationhood, citizen, and the monarchical relations with political institutions.

Business:

Government’s Stimulus Measures

  • The Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives expects to complete the payment of Covid-19 aid money to 8 million farmers by the end of May (this Sunday).  BAAC estimated that 10 million farmers are eligible, but many were disqualified because they are civil servants or still earn income from other jobs or are deceased.
  • Some 10.3 billion Baht will be made available as loans to an estimated 2,800 commercial and artisanal fishermen in accordance with the cabinet’s decision on 26 May.  The loans will improve the fishermen’s liquidity since many of them could not go to the sea after the migrant workers returned home.  The loans will have 7-year repayment period with 7 percent interest rate, to be offered by Government Savings Bank and BAAC.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1925312/cash-aid-for-8m-farmers-winding-up

CPTPP

Pesticide Banning

Export

  • The Egg Board agreed to allocate 50 million Baht from farmers’ assistance fund to support farmers, traders and exporters with management costs, ie: packing, transporting and egg grading, at a rate of 50 satang per egg from 1 June – 30 Nov.  The move is poised to help farmers amidst the slump in egg price resulting from an oversupply of 100 million eggs in the domestic market.  Ex-farm prices of eggs are currently quoted at 2.40 baht apiece, lower than farmers’ production cost of 2.70 Baht apiece. 
  • Commerce Ministry also plans to export about 200 million eggs through a 6-month campaign.  The first 100 million eggs will be exported from June to September, and the rest from October to November.  The department will also sell up to 15 million eggs in the next two months at the Ministry of Commerce’s Blue Flag shops nationwide.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1925352/board-allots-b50m-to-egg-farmers  https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30388641

Aviation

  • The Central Bankruptcy Court accepted a Thai Airways International (THAI) debt rehabilitation petition yesterday (27 May).  Tris Rating subsequently downgraded Thai Airways’ rating and its ratings on senior unsecured debentures to default.  The court was informed that Thai Airways had registered capital of 26.9 billion Baht, debts of 354.4 billion and assets of 349.6 billion Baht. The petition also nominated rehabilitation planners, comprising its four board members and two other board members (Thai Airways Acting President and the airline’s chairman).  The first hearing is set for August.
  • Thai Airways’s newly-appointed board member, Pailin Chuchottaworn has resigned, citing a violation of the National Anti-Corruption Commission regulation.  Pailin was the Deputy Transport Minister from December 2017 until last year.  According to the regulation, he is prohibited from assuming a position in any organisation in which the government holds a stake within two years of leaving a cabinet minister post.  Sources: https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1925428/board-shakeup-as-thai-debt-rehab-commences   https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1925376/downgrade-wont-affect-thai-liabilities

Others

  • April’s Manufacturing production index (MPI) was 79.04, the lowest since November 2011 and a 17.2 percent YoY decline, attributable to the contractions in industrial and manufacturing sectors.  April’s capacity utilisation rate was 51.9 percent.  Capacity utilisation rate for Q1 is 66.7 percent, falling from 71.3 percent from the same period last year.
  • The Ministry of Industry downgraded the MPI for 2020 to a record low of negative 6-7%, with industrial GDP contracting 5.5-6.5%.  Source: https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1925456/mpi-dips-to-lowest-since-2011
  • New business registrations in April totalled 3,996, decreasing by 33 percent YoY.  Compared to March, business registrations fell 34% from 6,066.  This is due to potential investors’ delaying making new investments.  For the first four months this year, the number of business registrations totalled 23,411, down 12 percent YoY.  Registered capital was 80.1 billion baht, up 19 percent YoY.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1925416/registrations-see-further-fall-in-april
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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