Advance Blog

January 24, 2022
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 21 January 2022

News

Newly confirmed casesTotal CasesDeath tollHospitalised/ intensive care patients
8,640 (195 from aboard; 20 from prisons), excluding 3,356 ATKs2,361,702 (last seven days: 53,084)13 (last seven days: 102)82,720/ 540
Total vaccination1st dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)2nd dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)3rd dose vaccine recipients (from 16 July)
111,323,026 (+523,090)51,968,988  (+46,078)47,945,145 (+110,971)11,408,893 (+366,041)
  • On 20 January 2022, the CCSA has made the following resolutions:
    • Readjustment of the zoning categories for disease control measures, effective from next Monday, 24 January 2022.
      • Entertainment complexes (pubs, clubs and karaoke bars) remain closed in all areas.
      • the number of Controlled zones (Orange) will be reduced from 69 to 44 provinces
        • in the Controlled zones (Orange), restaurants and eateries can still resume normal opening hours but the consumption of alcoholic beverages remains banned.
      • and the number of High Surveillance areas (Yellow) will rise up to 25 provinces.
        • in High Surveillance areas (Yellow), the measures that restaurants must follow are more relaxed as dining and drinking alcoholic beverages in the stores are allowed.
      • the number of Pilot tourism areas/Sandbox Areas is still the same at 8 provinces.
        • extension of alcoholic sales at restaurants in these areas from 21.00 hrs. to 23.00 hrs. 
    • From 1 February 2022, WFH is no longer compulsory.
    • The Test & Go quarantine waiver to resume from 1 February 2022. The policy requires visitors to test on arrival and again five days later, while agreeing to have their whereabouts tracked.–Reuters
      • To apply the applicants must prepare the following documents:
        • proof of hotel booking for Day 1 and Day 5 (The hotels can be different hotels but must provide an accommodation service in partnership with certified hospitals for the RT-PCR test according to SHA ++/AQQ/ AHQ). 
        • a Confirmed Payment for SHA++ Hotel and pre-payment of 2 RT-PCR tests
        • a Certificate of Vaccination / Vaccine passport
    • The sandbox scheme has been extended to include Trat province (Koh Chang) and Chonburi province.

Politics

  • 19 January had many movements with political ramifications:
    • Two members of the so-called “Fantastic Four” group announced its new political party debut, focusing on economic recovery. Uttama Sawanayon, former Finance Minister and former main-ruling Palang Pracharat (PPRP) Party leader, and Sonthirat Sonthijirawong, former Energy Minister and former PPRP secretary-general, held the press conference on the establishment of “Build Thailand’s Future” Party. The former technocrat team of the Prayut government said that their new party will present themselves as a central party and constructive policy platforms with the focus on the economic recovery from the pandemic.—Krungthep Turakij
      • Sonthirat said that the new party will have its own PM candidate list and will not nominate General Prayut as one of its party’s candidate.—Prachachat Turakij
      • The party key figures did not say, however, whether they will throw its support behind General Prayut when it comes to the PM nomination votes.
    • Thammanat Prompao, the secretary-general of the PPRP and other 20 MPs, particularly in the Northern constituencies were expelled from the PPRP.
      • On the morning of 20 January, the deputy head of the PPRP announced that the MPs were expelled from the party for causing party disunity. Paiboon Nititawan said that Thammanat, the secretary-general, had made a proposal which the party cannot accept, resulting in the expulsion. The legal figure of the party said that despite not having the 20 MPs, the House can still secure the quorum —Thai Rath
      • Thammanat said that he feel for the PPRP as during the pandemic it was only him and the party leader who really care for the well-being of the people and the party member. The expelled secretary-general did not tell which party he will join next, but he mentioned that the party has been established for quite some times and has been regarded as a party for some senior figures to lead.–Matichon
      • It is reported that the PPRP leader General Prawit met with PM Prayut with a possible discussion from Thammanat expulsion.–Matichon  
      • Deputy PM and government legal pundit Wissanu Kreaungam said that the government is in a very risky position of encountering a political accident. The government advisor said that if there is house dissolution before the amendment of the two organic laws in relation to the electoral system is finalised, he has no answer for the government no how to proceed with the election. The long-time serving legal advisor stressed that he has no solution to this conundrum.—Krungthep Turakij
      • The Prime Minister gave an interview saying that he does not involve in the PPRP putsch and affirmed that even without the 20 MPs support, he has no plan of cabinet reshuffle, nor house dissolution.—Krungthep Turakij
      • Chinnaworn Boonyakiat, a government whip from Democrat Party, gave an interview saying with 21 MPs explelled without clear direction on their political affiliation,
        • the House still has 475 seats;
        • the coalition will has 247 seats
        • the opposition has 208 seats
        • the quorum is at 238 seats.—Inside Thailand
      • With the secretary-general seat became vacant, it is expected that a majority of PPRP members will throw their support behind Deputy Finance Minister Santi Promphat as the new party main campaigner. Santi has more favours than the Labour Minister Suchart in taking the party leading position.—Krungthep Turakij
      • Nine micro-parties (one MP each) are not in unity of where their positions will be vis-à-vis Thammanat new party.—Krungthep Turakij
      • Analysts said that the expulsion could lead to either cabinet reshuffle or house dissolution.–Reuters
  • The Opposition has filed a censure debate without a vote motion to the House Speaker against the government. The opposition eyes to grill the coalition party by mid-February on four issues: higher cost of living, pandemic (COVID-19 and ASF), political problems and administrative problems.—Prachachat Turakij

Economic

  • The ruling Palang Pracharath Party’s decision to expel Sec-Gen Thammanat and 20 other MPs is believed to have short-term repercussions on the economy.  While the Thai Chamber of Commerce fears the government’s instability may disrupt policies to stimulate the economy, it is not expected to have long-term impacts as The National Strategy and Economic and Social Development plan will ensure economic policy continuity in the long run.  Political volatility is foreseen to have little impacts on investors’ confidence; less than the ongoing domestic issues of inflation, unemployment and other COVID-related issues.  Investments in the Thai capital market will not be severely affected either, particularly because foreign investors are more interested in Thailand’s economic recovery than political developments.  The tourism sector said it is not affected by the current political situation at all.  The recovery of the tourism sector hinges heavily on public health policies to control the current pandemic outbreak.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij newspaper, 21 January 2022
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed that 288 tonnes of Thai Durians worth 57 million Baht was transported from Thailand’s northeastern province of Nong Khai into Laos, Vietnam and into China through the Pingxiang checkpoint.  Pingxiang is China’s first railway checkpoint that opened specifically to facilitate fruit transport.  It is offering Thai entrepreneurs a quicker and less expensive export option than the traditional modes of transportation through trucks, ships and airplanes.  This is the first train from ASEAN to carry fruits through the Pingxiang checkpoint since the enforcement of RCEP in January.   Source:  Krungthep Turakij
  • Thailand had successfully transported 20 cargoes of rice weighing 1,000 tonnes through the China-Laos railway into China’s western city of Chongqing, which took only 1-2 days.   This is the first batch of Thai rice to be transported via China-Laos railway, marking an important step in Thailand’s Esan Gateway strategy.  Next, Ministry of Agriculture had set sight on transporting rubber, fruits, Thai orchids, casava, palm oil, fishery and livestock products and processed agricultural goods through this railway.  Source:  Naew Na   Bangkok Post
  • Thailand will resume the Test&Go quarantine-free visa program for vaccinated visitors, starting from February.  Thailand has experimented with several visa, quarantine and tourism programs over the past 2 years to support a sector that contributed about one-fifth of GDP before the pandemic.  The resumption of Test & Go is forecasted to bring in more foreign tourists and strengthen the fragile economic recovery. “The government needs to find way for the economy to run on its own, so they can reduce fiscal support,” commtned an economist at Kasikornbank. “They can’t afford to borrow such a huge amount of money like before.”  Source:  Bloomberg
  • Finance Minister Arkhom is confident the Thai economy can grow by 3.5-4.5 percent in 2022 as the revival of the Test & Go scheme next month is poised to attract 5-6 million tourist arrivals this year.  In addition to tourism, the 2022 economy will be driven by export, public spending on infrastructure projects as well as the EEC; and domestic consumption.  Source:  Naew Na Bangkok Post
  • The private sector has proposed the government establish a specific agency to take charge of reforming outdated laws and regulations, especially those relating to the ease of doing business.  The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) had already requested the Office of the Council of State improve more than 40 proposals.  The JSCCIB previously talked with Kobsak Pootrakool, chairman of a subcommittee on business regulation reform set up by the PM.  The subcommittee reported that 424 procedures could be amended or abolished in fiscal 2021 and there are 514 total procedures scheduled to be amended or abolished.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The government has pledged to cap the prices of diesel and cooking gas for as long as possible to stabilise the costs of consumer goods.  It is considering sourcing additional budget to shore up the state Oil Fund used to subsidise retail diesel prices.  The government vows to cap the diesel price at 30 baht per litre and cooking gas at 318 baht per 15-kilogramme cylinder until March 31.  Source:  Bangkok Post Krungthep Turakij

The Commerce Ministry is putting chickens and chicken meat on the state price control list and rolling out more stringent measures for chicken raisers and slaughterhouses as well as feed meal factories, requiring them to declare their sales costs and stocks as part of efforts to deal with surging food prices.  Source:  Bangkok Post

The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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