Advance Blog

January 13, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 13 January 2021

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesProvinces with confirmed casesDischarged from hospitalFrom 15 Dec, total confirmed cases from clusters
15710,991606,943 (at 63.17%)6,754
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field hospital/  quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding among migrant workers
90+42 (active case finding among migrant workers) + 21 (entering from Myanmar)4 (in SQ)3,981551 [527 reported by BMA yesterday + 24 by CCSA today]673,006
  • Media reports that Thai Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received the application from two vaccine producers: AstraZeneca and Sinovac Biotech to register their COVID-19 vaccines for use in Thailand. FDA secretary-general said The vaccine will need to undergo various safety assessments to be registered in Thailand, and once approved, they can be bought by private hospitals.—Reuters
    • In the weekly cabinet meeting yesterday, the cabinet acknowledged the vaccine procurement report to be divided into three phases from three sources. The cabinet aims to vaccinate up to 33 millions population within 2021. The more details of the vaccine procurement is as followed:
      • Source 1: 2 million doses, covering 10 percent of the population from Chinese Sinovac Biotech to be supplied by the first quarter of 2021. The overall budget is at 1.2 billion THB.
      • Source 2: 26 million doses, covering 20 percent of the population from AstraZeneca under bilateral agreement (advanced market commitment) to be supplied by June 2021. The cabinet also had the resolution to procure the addition of 35 million more doses, totalling 61 million doses from the British company.
      • Source 3: from COVAX Facility, to supply 20 percent of the population. It is now under negotiation process.—Prachachat
    • A senior source in private hospital business told a media that regardless of the high demand of vaccine, the private hospitals cannot procure the vaccine at this time as it needs to get an approval from Thai FDA before they can contact to the company or agents.—Prachachat
    • CBD Klong Toey market has been closed from today for three days as a vendor is tested COVID positive. The vendor is asymptomatic before getting into quarantine after a saliva test.—National News Bureau of Thailand
    • FCCT is going to hold an online panel discussion on COVID-19 and Thailand vaccine strategy from 7pm tonight. The discussion will be livestream on their FB Page.—FCCT

Politics

  • In the weekly cabinet meeting, the cabinet has approved the nationwide elections for the mayors and councillors of municipalities of all levels. The Election Commission is eyeing to hold the election on 21 March.—Thai Rath
  • In the cabinet meeting, it is reported that the Election Commission has indicated the budget for the local election in Pattaya City and Bangkok Metropolitan. The National Security Council said the movement of the student-led protest has changing its form from a mass gathering to that of symbolic gestures spraying at different locations. The target of this latest movement is beyond the government. The PM is also reported to say at the end of the meeting that “It is heaven’s wishes to bring us all together. It is lucky that we are in power from election. Should it is the junta government, we will face more resistance.”—Krungthep Turakij
  • The Digital Economy Minister said that the Computer Crime Suppression Division has given a deadline for the student-led protest main figures Parit ‘Penguin’ Chiwarak and Panusaya ‘Rung’ Sithijirawattanakul to report themselves to the police division on the charges from the Computer Crime Act by 14 January. The Minister who is looking after ‘anti-fake news centre’ said his ministry has submitted court order to global platform providers (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and many more) to geo-block more than 9,000 contents. The providers have managed to shut down 5,308 contents.—Thai Rath

Economic:

  • Cabinet’s Decisions, 12 January, 2021

The cabinet had given a green light to a new set of stimulus/relief measures, to be funded by the 470 billion Baht budget remaining from the 1 trillion Baht loan.  There is also 130 billion Baht worth of the government’s contingency fund that is available for re-allocation to combat COVID-19.  DPM Supattanapong insists additional borrowing is not necessary – as long as the public provides its full cooperation and the pandemic is brought under complete control by the end of March.  If the outbreaks continues beyond this period, the government may need to borrow more. 

Stimulus/Relief Measures

  • Domestic stimulus subsidy package ‘Rao Tiew Duay Kun’ – hotel bookings made under this package can be postponed until April and its Phase 2 implementation is being considered.
  • Phase 3 of co-payment subsidy program ‘Kon La Krueng’ is expected to open for registration to an estimated 1 million people on 20 January and will be implemented from 25 January onward.  Details will be finalised by the cabinet next Tuesday
  • Cash-handout worth 3,500 Baht per person per month will be administered to the afflicted, specifically farmers and those not covered by Social Security System for 2 months.  The program is called “Thai Chana” and eligible recipients must register on its website, with cash to be given out at the end of January or start of February.  Details will be finalized by the cabinet next Tuesday.
  • Ministry of Finance has extended various debt holiday, debt restructuring and loan programs for tourism operators, exporters/importers and freelancers through 7 state-owned banks until June 2021.  Bank of Thailand is extending its debt moratorium program until June 2021,
  • Tax Reduction – 90 percent reduction in land and building taxes, with transfer fee reduced to 0.01 percent.  Details will be finalized by the cabinet next week
  • Reduction of utility expenses for 2 months, ie: electricity bill and 10 percent discount for water bill in February and March.
  • Ministry of Digital Economy and Society will ask internet service providers to boost internet speed to support work-from-home programs and provide free of charge downloads for Mor Chana app for 3 months
  • Ministry of Labour will implement Employment scheme to recruit new graduates to work for the government
  • Reduction in social security fund (SSF) contribution and increase in SSF unemployment compensation that cover joblessness arising from force majeur, temporarily business suspension and resignation.
  • Meaures will be in place to support business operators to establish ‘factory quarantine sites’ for their workers, especially in the 5 red-zone eastern provinces.  Sources:  Bangkok PostThansettakijCabinet press conference, 12 January 2021
  • The Bank of Thailand has extended financial relief measures to individual borrowers and SMEs with performing loans until Jun 2021.  These include debt relief measures, deferment of debt repayment and, debt holiday measures.  Finance Ministry noted that there is 370 billion Baht remaining budget from the BOT’s previous soft loan program.   Source:  Bangkok Post

Others

  • Commerce Minister Jurin said COVID-19 has caused a significant decline in border trade, with trade between Thailand and Myanmar falling by an average 30-40 percent; with Laos estimated at 10 percent and with Cambodia by 20 percent.  The shortage of shipping cargo containers is also causing delays in the export of Thai goods.
  • Commerce Ministry is a also fixing the retail price of sanitary face mask at 2.5 Baht and is also monitoring retailers nationwide to ensure compliance.   There is no price control on fabric mask, while alternative facial masks with added functionality such as protection against dust, can be sold at a retail price with 60 percent mark-up.  Source:  Daily News
  • Commerce Ministry revealed that China’s Dual Circulation Strategy aimed at reducing reliance on imports could affect some sectors of Thai exports.  China is likely to localise its supply chains for products in the technology, energy and food sectors.  Commerce Ministry identified areas that Thailand could improve to ensure Thailand’s products remain valuable to China, such as improving R&D for the manufacturing of airplane jets.  Source:  Kao Hoon
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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