Advance Blog

April 9, 2020
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Headline summary as of 9th April 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • As of today, there are 54 newly cases, a total of 2,423 confirmed cases. Out of the total number, there have been 32 deaths.
    • Yesterday, Thailand reported 111 newly confirmed cases, a total of 2,369 confirmed cases. Out of the total number, there have been 30 deaths and 888 recovered. 
    • Reuters quoted a senior immigration official saying that Thailand approved a plan on Wednesday to allow all foreigners who entered legally to receive automatic visa extensions, to prevent long queues at immigration centres and stem the spread of the coronavirus. The senior immigration official said the automatic visa extension has been granted until April 30 and the government could extend this deadline each month.
    • Michael George DeSombre introduced himself to PM Prayuth at the government house yesterday. He pledged support to the Thai government’s continuing fight to contain the outbreak and thanked the Thai government for taking good care of US citizens as well as other foreigners who live in Thailand.—all media outlet
    • Health officials reported that 42 of the 76 all-male Muslim pilgrims from Sulawesi, Indonesia who arrived on a charter flight on Monday were found to be carrying the virus when they were tested on Tuesday.
    • Health officials reported that 6 out of 32 Thais who recently returned from Japan on a repatriation flight were sent to hospital after failing a health screening test at Suvarnabhumi airport. 
    • The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is offering testing at home for people who suspect they may have caught the coronavirus disease. People can get the test by completing an online questionnaire and were identified to be at-risk.
    • From 2.00 pm today, the well-known resort city of Pattaya, Chon Buri province will be under lockdown for 21 days. Those who are not residents of Pattaya or working there will not be allowed to enter until the situation returns to normal. Besides, people are also required to wear face masks when outdoors.—Bangkok Post, Matichon
    • The Army, Navy and Air force have decided to reconsidered its proposed budget to sort out weapons and gears, sparing more money to be used for curbing the effects of COVID-19. The navy has decided not to sort out the second and third submarines.—Matichon, Daily News, Thai Rath

Politics

  • The Election Commission (EC) has informed political parties that they should notify the EC if they are unable to hold an annual assembly as required this month, in order to avoid being fined or facing legal action because of the Covid-19 pandemic.—Bangkok Post
  • Pressure is growing on MPs and senators to donate part of their salaries toward easing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the calls for MPs to give up a slice of their pay was rejected by House Speaker Chuan Leekpai.—All media outlet

Business

  • The Joint Standing Committee of Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) predicts that 7 million workers will be jobless by June due to the shutdowns resulting from the pandemic.  These workers are low-paid workers who earn less than 20,000 Baht a month.  Losing their jobs are an estimated 4.2 million retail and shopping mall workers; 978,000 hotel workers; 250,000 restaurant workers; 200,000 spa and massage workers and 200,000 garment factory workers. Bangkok Post Newspaper, 9 April
  • The Tourism and Sports Ministry reported an almost 40 percent drop in the first-quarter tourism revenue to 335 billion Baht.  In the first quarter, international visitors totalled 6.7 million, a decline of 38 percent YoY.  Tourist numbers had dropped by at least 4.09 million since the travel restriction was imposed in March.  In March alone, tourist number dropped by 76.1 percent to 830,892.  The Ministry expects the figures to deteriorate further in the second quarter. Bangkok Post Newspaper, 9 April
  • There was much controversy surrounding the first round of the government’s 5000 Baht cash-handout yesterday.  A number of cash recipients who have made statements on Social Media appear to be quite affluent and are not the program’s target group.  The MoF is investigating this matter.  If these social media users are found to be posting false information, they will prosecuted by the Ministry of Digital Economy.
  • Cash hand-out update – Ministry of Finance’s press conference, 8 April
    • Yesterday the Ministry of Finance said it would make an assessment after the first three months of cash-handout to evaluate if the program should be continued until September.  It reiterates that payments will be made to around 9 million people based on Labour Force data.
    • The total number of cash-handout applicants is 24.28 million people and MoF expects to complete the screening of all applicants this Sunday 12 April.  Payments will be made in batches. As of yesterday, 370,000 people have cancelled their applications. 
    • The first batch of payment will be made to 1.40 million applicants from 8 – 10 April.  Of this figure, the majority (400,000) are traders, followed by hired labourers, employees, drivers, freelancers, lottery sellers and tour guides.  Approval for an additional 260,000 applicants is still pending due to unverified bank account details.
    • Ineligible applicants are those who are already receiving some type of support from the government, ie: welfare payment or Social Security compensation.  Excluded are also those who are not directly affected by Covid19, such as students, e-commerce operators, programmer and construction workers (the government did not order the construction sector to close down). Farmers are also not eligible.  MoF will release a separate set of measures to assist them as part of the Phase 3 stimulus package.
    • MoF has a process in place to screen the applications.  For applicants whose information require further verification, MoF will:
      1. Contact them
      2. If further verification is still needed, MoF will ask Thailand Postal staff to conduct site visits according to their postal code zones
      3. If the Postal staff site visit does not work, MoF and its network agencies (Customs / Revenue Department) will do site visits and make the final decisions
    • MoF will also conduct post-audit.  If duplication occurs, the recipients must return the 5,000 Baht to MoF in 90 days.  Those who are found to be providing false information will be prosecuted by the Digital Economy Ministry.
    • MoF will continue to evaluate the situation and launch more stimulus packages as needed.
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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