Advance Blog

May 7, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headline summary as of 7th May 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reported 3 newly confirmed cases (a housewife from Yala province, detected from active testing and two men travelling back Kazakhstan, currently under state quarantine), a total number of 2,992 cases. Out of the total number, 165 are being hospitalised and 2,772 are discharged from hospital. The death toll remains at 55.
    • Yesterday, there was one reported death. He was the 69-year-old Australian national who owned a hotel in the southern province of Phang Nga.
    • The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) says all Thais stranded abroad will be repatriated, as the government prepares to welcome about 7,000 returnees who will arrive between Thursday and May 31.—all media outlet
    • CCSA’s spokesperson said on Wednesday that the government was adjusting its testing parameters after weeks of low infection rates. The government will relax criteria and widen the search for coronavirus infections in a bit to stomp out the disease.  “The results of these findings will be made available to the public in the coming weeks,” he said. The government said on Monday that it had tested 227,860 samples total.—Thai Enquirer, Bangkok Post
    • The test result of the Thailand-made COVID-19 vaccine shows “satisfactory” result in animal testing. The developer will start the next phase of the clinical testing.—Daily News
    • The chairperson of the Thai Chamber of Commerce said, according to the CCSA’ phrasing reopening of businesses, he wishes that the retail business, including department stores could be re-opened from 17 May.–Matichon
    • The PM said after the cabinet meeting that “Thailand may see the economic impact from the coronavirus pandemic spread over another nine months”, as disruption from the global crisis drags on tourism and domestic activity.–Reuters

Politics

  • Move Forward Party submitted an urgent motion to the House calling for the setting up of a special committee to probe the government’s spending on relief measures to combat the COVID-19 crisis. The leader of the party MP Pita said his concern resolves around the power the PM has due to the emergency decree.—all media outlet
  • PM Prayut came out to confirm that a cabinet reshuffle is not on the cards amid growing rift within the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party in an attempt to oust party leader Uttama, and the secretary-general Sontirat. After the meeting between the PM and the two party’s key persons, Mr Uttama said it has boosted his morale.—all media outlet

Business:

Cash Handout

  • Ministry of Finance expects to pay the 5,000 Baht cash-handout to 11 million people on Friday 8 May, and to the remaining 1.8 million by the end of next week.  The total number of qualified applicants is 12.8 million.  The deadline to file appeals for rejected applicants is also Friday 8 May. The appeal process will take time because the Finance Ministry will forward appeals to the Social Development and Human Security Ministry to be addressed.
  • The Social Development and Human Security Ministry is in charge of assisting 13 million vulnerable people including infants, the elderly, disabled and homeless.  A budget of 39 billion Baht is set aside to help them.  For example, the disabled including those below the age of 18, are already receiving 1,000 Baht from the ministry. 

Social Security Compensation

Others

  • Inflation in April 2020 declined by -2.99 percent YoY, the lowest in 10 years and 9 months.  This is attributable to the decline in non-food & beverage items and energy price, which is also the lowest in 11 years and 2 months.  Overall, Thailand’s inflation fell by 0.44 percent from January to April, the slowest since 2015. 
  • Notably, this is the second executive month of deflation, following the contraction in March’s inflation of -0.5 percent YoY.  April’s deflation could serve as the basis for the Bank of Thailand to cut policy rate by 25 basis point. Source:  http://viewswire.eiu.com/index.asp?layout=VWArticleVW3&article_id=379515421; UOB newsletter
  • The Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) has formed a study team with the University of Thai Chamber of Commerce experts to study the pros and cons of Thailand joining the CPTPP.  This will form the basis for TCC’s stance on whether or not to support Thailand to join the pact.  TCC will also invite businesses to voice their opinions on a range of issues, including CPTPP’s effects on medicines and crops.
  • The issue was also discussed by the Federation of Thai Industries on 5 May and will be discussed by the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking today (7 May).  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1913752/thai-chamber-of-commerce-mulls-cptpp
  • The Thai National Shippers’ Council expects an 8-9 percent contraction in export this year, partly because of the strong Baht, the dwindling purchasing power around the world and volatile oil price.  The Council urged the government to maintain the Baht at around 23.5 to 34 Baht to the dollar, offer loans to entrepreneurs and support to agricultural products. Source:  https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30387380
  • The Public Debt Management Office (PDMO) plans to secure 54 billion Baht worth of bridge loans for Thai Airways International.  In exchange for the bridge loans that are crucial to maintain the national carriers’ liquidity, Thai Airways is required to undertake a business rehabilitation plan, which includes cost management and downsizing its employees.  Ministry of Finance’s rescue plan for Thai Airways has yet to go before the cabinet.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1913904/thai-on-the-verge-of-b54bn-in-loans
  • The Cabinet has approved proposals to ease the people’s burden during Covid-19 by providing 20 percent discount on water bills until the end of June. The discount is only for private users, while government agencies and state enterprises will get 3 per cent discount on water bills, with free usage of first 10 cubic metres until the end of June.  Source:  National News Bureau of Thailand fb page

Australia

  •  The Public Relations Department publicised PM Prayuth’s schedule to meet with HOM at the government house this afternoon.—PRD, Manager, Thai News Agency
  • Media reported on the Australian-New Zealand initiative on the “trans-Tasman bubble”, as a model to ease international travel to boost tourism.—Krungthep Turakij, Nation TV, The Standard, Prachachart, Thai News Agency
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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