Advance Blog

May 8, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headline summary as of 8th May 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports eight newly confirmed cases, the total case is at 3,000. Out of the total number, 2,784 cases are discharged from hospital.
    • The government plans the next round of easing disease control measures and reopening of big premises on May 17 while maintaining restrictions on returnees and efforts to reduce crowd gatherings. CCSA hinted that, should the daily newly confirmed cases are still in a single digit, department store and community mall can be reopened from 17 May.—Bangkok Post, Thai Post, Siam Rath
    • Deputy PM and Minister of Public Health Anutin has proposed to put PRC and S. Korea out of the COVID-19 contraction area, paving a way to open Thailand tourism sector.–Manager

Politics

  • Special report on the Thai government’s arbitrary legal action with Australian Kings Gate on the closure of Akra mine in Thailand said PM Prayut has his ‘secret weapon’ to avert being a culprit in this legal case. The report said that Industrial Minister Suriya proposed to the cabinet in March that the cabinet should pay compensation to the company to cease the legal case, but the PM declined the proposition and told his legal team to look into options. The PM’s secret weapon is the National Anti-Corruption Commission’s action to examine international bribery from an information by Australian Securities and Investment Commission : ASIC.–Manager
  • Media reported that the Finance Minister and main ruling Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) leader and the Energy Minister and PPRP’s Secretary-general Sondirat went to see Deputy PM Prawit at his residence. Since last week, there have been reports of rifts within the main ruling PPRP between the Deputy PM Prawit faction and Deputy PM Somkid clique.—Siam Rath
  • Thepthai Senpong, Democrat Party MP for Nakhon Si Thammarat cited suicide information collected during April 1-30, 2020  by the Social Development and Human Security Ministry. The ministry recorded 84 suicide attempts (by 62 males and 22 females), 62 suicide deaths (50 males and 12 females) due to personal problems, debt, job loss, health issues, depression and a result of missing out on the 5,000 baht cash handouts.—Siam Rath

Business:

Cash-handout

  • Ministry of Finance extended the appeal deadline for 5,000 Baht cash-handout applicants from May 8 to May 15.  Appeals can be made at the Public Relations Department, moved from the original location at the Ministry of Finance.

Soft Loans

  • Demand for the Bank of Thailand’s 500 billion Baht soft loan scheme has been low in the two weeks since the application opened, owing to the long weekend and long pledging process.  Around 22,000 SMEs have taken out 36 billion Baht of the BOT’s soft loans.  SME borrowing averaged 1.6 million Baht per customer, with 74 percent of the borrowers being smaller SMEs located upcountry.  BOT’s 500 billion Baht soft loan is part of the government’s third stimulus package.

Social Security

  • Board of Social Security Office disagreed with the Labour Ministry’s plan to raise compensation payments from 60 percent to 75 percent of daily wage to workers who lost their job or were furloughed due to the pandemic.  Some businesses that decided to temporarily close during the outbreak were still paying employees 75 percent of their wages in accordance with Section 75 of the Labour Law.  The latest proposal form the ministry would unfairly pass all the burden to the Social Security Fund.  Labour permanent secretary will submit input from various sectors for the Labour Minister’s consideration.

Others

  • The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) projects export to decline by 5-10 percent as it is dependent on the financial health of other world economies.  It also forecasts a 3-5 percent contraction in Thailand’s GDP this year; not as low as IMF’s 6.7 percent contraction forecast since the Thai economy is receiving support from the government.  JSCCIB also expects economic recovery to start in the second quarter.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1914448/joint-panels-trade-view-decays-as-global-virus-fallout-deepens
  • Thailand’s cross-border trade decreased by 7.6 percent YoY in the first quarter as bordering countries closed dozens of checkpoints due to the pandemic outbreak. Malaysia is still the biggest border-trade partner for Thailand.  Transit trade to southern China recovered to fetch the greatest value after China reopened, with value rising to 28.62 Billion baht, up 4.9%, followed by Singapore (19.70 billion baht) and Vietnam (13.53 billion baht).
  • Thailand’s overall cross-border trade totalled 264.97 billion Baht in Q1.  Of this figure, exports from Thailand was down 5.4% YoY.  Imports also shrank by 12.6%, resulting in a trade surplus of 110.15 billion baht.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1913144/cross-border-movement-down-7-6-
  • The pandemic is expected to drive Thailand’s e-commerce growth by 30 percent in 2020, compared with the usual 15-20 percent,. Traditional retail businesses are likely to be disrupted by Chinese e-commerce players faster than expected, while many local SMEs will disappear within five years after e-commerce gains steam.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1914404/foreign-domination-predicted

Australia

  • Ambassador’s meeting with the PM has attracted media attention via its online outlet. All content are a direct quote from The Office of Secretariat of the Prime Minister. All the headline focuses on Ambassador’s praise on Prayut’s measure to curb COVID-19.
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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