Advance Blog

May 19, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 19 May 2021

News

Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesPatients under severe conditions and those using ventilatorsDischarged from hospitalFrom 1 April, totally confirmed cases (third wave)1st dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)
3,349 (1,879 + 1,498 from prisons)116,949  1,210 / 402  74,36888,086  1,585,773 (+64,739) (= 2.298 % of the population)  
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollTotal vaccinations2nd dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)
1,879 [1,625 (get tested in hospital) + 254 (active case finding)]17 (in SQ)41,903 (23,512 in field hospitals)29,534 (+876)678 (+29)2,445,645 doses859,872 (+39,911) (=1.238 % of the population)
  • In the last two days saw people in the entertainment industry start taking COVID jabs stating that the existing vaccines would help make their life return to normal.—Khao Sod
  • A famous singer also posted on her social media on the inoculation. However, she said that he was contacted by the Public Health Ministry to be a presenter for the jab, making her having the vaccine one month before schedule.—Khao Sod
  • CCSA announced that the cluster at Bon Kai community in the Pathumwan District is now under control.–CCSA

Politics

  • In the cabinet meeting, the PM just scrapped the Public Health Ministry dreams of introducing ‘walking-in jab’ scheme for fear that the scheme would encourage people to densely gathered in one place which might cause chaotic situation. The PM who concurrently serve as the CCSA head said that he would like to give the prospective scheme a pause until there are sufficient vaccines.—Thai Rath
    • This has been seen by a media that this halt means the PM is the real deal in the vaccine allocation and the COVID situation, not the Public Health Minister. Moreover, the media suggested it might mean that there will not be enough vaccines ready for the walk-in’ scheme.–Matichon
  • After an MP from Opposition Move Forward Party came out to unveil that the cabinet has clandestinely approve a Decree to make a loan of 700 billion on top of the 1 trillion THB loans in a bid to revitalise the economy amidst the pandemic, the Finance Ministry will hold a press conference to clarify on the matter.–Matichon
    • Deputy PM and ruling Democrat leader Jurin said that the loan will support the government bid in curbing the pandemic.—Krungthep Turakij
    • Former Transport Minister and prospective BMA governor candidate posted on his social media asking people to look into the 1 trillion loan approved projects and its effectiveness. He cited some projects about wild animals education centres which is irrelevant to the pressing COVID issue.—Krungthep Turakij
  • Former PM and Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva is the only Thai politician picked by the Chinese Communist Party to give a special interview on the 100th anniversary of the CCP.
    • Former advisor to the Deputy PM Prawit tried to read between the line by saying that the CCP which will mark its centenary this July has picked Abhisit who is a PM candidate under the Democrat as Thai representative in its online seminar. Paisal Puechmongkol hinted this with political implication.–Matichon
  • Panusaya ‘Rung’ posted on her social media that her mother got a summon order from the Royal Thai Police office on charges of organising an event which might cause an infection. The core protest leader’s mother held a small gathering in front of the Supreme Court calling her daughter to get bails since late April.—Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul

Australia

  • The Police Chief has ordered Illicit Drug Suppression division to scrutinise into the ‘ice’ smuggling from Thailand into Australia. The Police Chief has asked relevant division to coordinate information with Australian Federal Police and hold a press conference for any update as soon as possible.—Naew Na
    • Office Of The Narcotics Control Board said the office is looking to confiscate assets of the Thai exporters.—Thai Rath

Economic:

Cabinet’s Decisions, 18 May 2021

  • Approved plans to implement 881 projects entitled ‘Big Rock’ worth 66.5 billion Baht to move forward the country’s national reform plan that came into effect in 2018.  The projects will be funded by FY2021 and FY2022 budgets as well as the central fund.  The first group of projects are labeled as the ‘top priority’ that are the bedrock of the reform program; followed by ‘urgent projects’ and projects that are considered essential for budget disbursement.  The projects mostly focus on value-added creations for the agricultural sector, such as smart farmers and bio-economy.  The NESDC is assigned to oversee these projects.   Source:  Bangkok Post  Thai Rath
  • Reduce contribution of employers and employees to Section 33 of the Social Security Fund to 2.5 percent (ceiling is 375 Baht) from 5 percent of monthly salary.  Contributions of the self-insured under Section 39 is also slashed to 216 Baht monthly from 432 Baht.  Both are effective from 1 June – 31 August 2021.  Sources:  Bangkok Post Prachachart Turakij
  • A source from Finance Ministry said the cabinet had approved its proposal to issue an executive degree authorising the government to borrow an additional 700 billion Baht to revitalise the economy.  This is because the 1 trillion Baht loan is being used up quickly to rehabilitate the economy from the third COVID-19 outbreak, in which only 166 billion Baht is left.  Finance Minister Akhom refused to comment on the matter, since the discussion was supposedly a secret and would not be disclosed publicly until it is published in the Royal Gazette. 
  • Of the 700-billion-Baht loan, there is speculation that 30 Billion baht will be allocated to Ministry of Public Health for the procurement of medical supplies and vaccine shots and research; 400 billion Baht will go to MoF to help the afflicted and; 270 billion Baht for MoF to stimulate investment and domestic consumption.  Another source speculates that the government will not spend all of the 700 billion Baht, but will allocate a portion to cover the loan made to shore up budget deficit resulting from the fall in revenue collection for FY2021 and FY2022.
  • This additional borrowing is not anticipated to affect FY2021 public debt level.  For FY2022, it might push public debt level to surpass the 60 percent ceiling, which will not be a problem as the government can expand the debt ceiling.  Source:  Prachachart Turakij  Thansettakij Krungthep Turakij Bangkok Post
  • Approved 3 measures for the government to raise additional investment funds worth 154 billion Baht for FY2022 budget through various channels, such as public-private partnership projects (valued at 52.320 billion Baht), Thailand Future Fund projects (value: 9.98 billion Baht) and more borrowing to finance social and economic development projects (value: 91.7 billion Baht).  This is in compliance with the Fiscal Discipline Law, which stipulates that investment budget must account for at least 20 percent of the government’s expenditure and must be higher than the loan amount set aside to shore up budget deficit.  Of the total FY2022 budget of 3.1 trillion Baht, the budget deficit is set at 700 billion Baht, while the current investment budget set aside is only 624 billion Baht.  Sources:  Prachachat Turakij Bangkok Post

Others

  • Thailand’s Ministry of Defence has trimmed its budget for 2022 for the third consecutive year to give the government more funds to contain the pandemic.  The Defence Ministry’s budget for FY 2020 by 18 billion Baht YoY and by another 17.2 billion Baht in FY2021.  The budget bill for FY2022 is due for its first reading in the parliament from 31 May – 2 June.  Source:  Thai PBS World
  • Nok Air has submitted a business rehabilitation business plan to the official receiver after its 2 extensions expired, with further rehabilitation planned with creditors.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation (TCG) recorded a low number of requests for its soft loan guarantee, totalling only 6.5 billion baht out of its earmarked 100 billion.  TCG provides credit guarantees for the Bank of Thailand’s recently amended 250 billion baht to help alleviate the impact of the pandemic outbreak on business owners.  Source:  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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