Advance Blog

January 12, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 12 January 2021

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesProvinces with confirmed casesDischarged from hospitalFrom 18 Dec, total confirmed cases from clusters
28710,834596,732 (at 62.14%)6,208
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases for active case finding among migrant workers
153+125 (active case finding among migrant workers)9 (in SQ)4,035487 (+31 cases reported today)672,964
  • After the reports on the newly introduced deadly illicit drugs, the CCSA concerns that drug users will potentially be the new clusters.
  • The Tourism and Sports Minister said the ministry is discussing with the Public Health Ministry and the CCSA and had proposed a plan to allow foreigners to quarantine in some of the country’s many golf resorts to boost the ailing tourism sector during the pandemic. Foreign tourists would be able to spend the two-week quarantine period at a specified resort and move around in the hotel area and also play golf rather than just isolating in their rooms. The Minister said the special visa issuing for long stay visitors has attracted more than 1,000 visitors.–Reuters
  • Thailand’s palace has released photographs of HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn visiting prisons with the royal consort, Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, as the royal family steps up public appearances. The royal couples are photographed sweeping floors and speaking to officials during the last two months of 2020, and the segment also featured interviews with inmates speaking about the benefits of the projects.–Reuters
    • Yesterday, the Royal Gazette published the King’s order to appoint the Royal Consort as the royal deputy advisor to the prison development project. The Royal Consort resumed this position after she was first appointed in late August 2019 and stripped of the position in November. HM the Queen Suthida who was royal advisor back in November, however, is no longer part of the project, according to the latest Gazette.—BBC Thai

Politics

  • The House Speaker has signed off the Parliament Order on appointing 11 members for the National Reconciliation Committee. The committee is scheduled to hold the first meeting on 18 January. In the first meeting, media will be allowed to attend. The agenda of the meeting also includes the nomination of the executives of the committee. The name list is as followed:
    • General Chaicharn Changmongkol, Deputy Defence Minister
    • Therdpong Chaiyanant, Coalition Democrat MP
    • Sora-at Klinprathum, Coalition Bhumjaithai MP
    • Nirote Sunthornlekha, main ruling  Phalang Pracharat Party MP
    • Chaweerat Kasetsunthorn, Senator
    • Wallop Tangkhananurak, Senator
    • Nirut Thuengnak, Rector of Rajabhat Maha Sarakham University
    • Wanchai Watthanasap, former Rector of Khon Kaen University
    • Surichai Wankaew, Director of Chulalongkorn University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies
    • Somsak Rungroong, Rector of Southeast Bangkok College
    •  Viroj Limkaisaeng, Rector of Rajamangala University of Technology Isan—Krungthep Turakij
  • Deputy Public Health Minister posted on his FB that the cabinet has approved the municipality election and has ordered the Election Commission to decide the date. The election date will most likely be on 21 March.—Than Settakij

Australia

  • Media reports quoting a source in the Government House saying that the Industry Ministry has updated the cabinet on the progress of the arbitrary between the Australian Kingsgate and the Thai Government. It is reported that the negotiation went well and the case will be settled by the middle of this year. The tendency is that Kingsgate will withdraw the case and re-invest in Thailand under the new bills and national strategy and potentially a co-investment with Thai investors.—Khao Sod Siam Rath

Economic:

  • NESDC Sec-Gen Danucha said his agency’s priority in the first 6 months of 2021 is to contain the pandemic outbreak, boost grassroot economy and curtail risks stemming from unemployment, household debt, strong Baht and the policies of the new US President, Joe Biden.  Its next focus will be on driving forward the economy as well as restructuring it.  To achieve the latter, the Board of Investment (BOI) will need to draw both technology transfer and investments into key industries such as electric vehicles, battery, electrical grids and systems and electronics.  If the pandemic is contained by early February, the government will not have to change its economic management plans.  Source:  The Nation
  • The Food Franchise Institute expects the government to be able to contain the pandemic outbreak in 3 months, with activities returning to normalcy in April.  This is expected to incur a loss of 15 billion Baht for restaurants and street food vendors, with new start-ups facing the highest prospect of closure due to cash flow issues.  Source: Thansettakij
  • Household debt for 2020 has reached a 12-year high, expanding by 42.3 percent from 2019 to total 483,951 Baht per household and amounting to 88 percent of GDP, according to Thai Chamber of Commerce University (UTCC).   Based on a survey of 1,000 people, most (70 percent) attribute the rising debt to the economic slowdown induced by COVID-19.   On the upside, over 75 percent of household debts are loans from legitimate financial institutions.  UTCC also disclosed that consumer confidence index had dropped to a 6-month low to 31.8 percent due to the restrictions of the soft lockdown.  Sources:  Krungthep Turakij  Bangkok Post
  • The export of Durians from Thailand’s red-zone eastern provinces to China is facing delays from the stringent COVID-19 screening processes imposed at Chinese checkpoints.  Additionally, China has yet to renew its contracts to purchase Thai Durians due to fears of pandemic contamination.  Some of the exported Durians remain held at the Chinese checkpoints – if they are not released by the end of January, it could prove problematic since an additional supply of 1 ton of Durians will be harvested in mid-January.  The screening processes at Chinese checkpoint are incurring extra costs for Thai exporters, who have asked farmers to reduce the price of Durians.  Domestic demands for fruits from the eastern provinces are also in a slump, thereby causing prices of fruits to drop further.  Source:  Thai PBS
  • Federation of Thai Capital Market Organization (FETCO) said the FETCO Investor Confidence Index in Q1 of 2021 remains bullish, supported by foreign fund inflow into emerging market and the prospects of domestic economic growth as well as a-40 percent increase in listed companies’ earnings this year.  Foreign investors were net buyers of Thai equities by 40 billion Baht from November- December of 2020, while for the full year they were net sellers of 260 billion Baht.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Tourism Ministry reiterates that the government will not rush into allowing inoculated tourists to enter Thailand without undergoing quarantine, despite the request by Thai Travel Agents (ATTA).  ATTA is calling for urgent relief measures for tourism operators, citing that 30 percent of the 10,000 registered inbound tourism companies have closed permanently; 50 percent have temporarily suspended their operations given the lack of international tourists; and 20 percent remain open but are stuttering because the domestic demand is vanquished by the pandemic outbreak.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Despite the pandemic and the ensuing economic slowdown, the resale condominium market remains robust.  The sellers want to sell their properties to preserve cash, while the buyers are those with solid financial footing who see the opportunity to purchase properties at attractive prices.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The government announced it is committed to completing its 20-year (2010-2029) mass rapid transit master plan for Bangkok and the vicinity that will cover 559 kg and 336 stations.  Source:  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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