Advance Blog

August 23, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 23 August 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)3rd dose vaccine recipients (from 16 July)
17,491  (398 from prisons); (excluding ATK 901)1,066,786 (last seven days: 146,521)5,290/ 1,094834,344 (+22,134)1,066,78620,430,028 (+157,857) BKK: 6,478,439 (+23,306)543,968 (+1,780) BKK: 141,075 (+129)
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollTotal vaccination (doses)2nd dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)Average tests in the last seven days
17,086 [15,014  (get tested in hospital) + 2,072 (active case finding)]7 (in SQ)195,454 [160,396 in field hospital]246,813 (+3,472)9,562 (+242) (last seven days: 1,700)27,038,999 (+206,820) BKK: 8,103,174 (+29,482)6,065,003 (+47,183) BKK: 1,483,660 (+6,047)50,859
  • The dean of prestigious medical faculty, Mahidol University who concurrently sits as an advisor to the government on COVID gave an interview is saying that the pandemic tendency in the Kingdom is showing a positive sign as there has been no spike in cases for the last two weeks. Dr Prasit Watanapa said that if there is enough vaccine and could administer vaccines as planned, the infection will soon be on decline. The inner circle of the Health administration said that mid-September will be a safe point to ease the lockdown as almost half of the population will be inoculated.–Matichon
  • The head of Restaurant Association is scheduled to meet with the PM seeking assurance in the timeline for the ease of lockdown. The restaurant association chief said that within the Dark Red zones, the business saw 80 percent lost in income. The president of the Thai Hotel Association also calls for the reopening of hotel’s swimming pools to attract tourists.–Matichon

Politics

  • The Lower House has approved the 2022 Budget Bill with 257 against 189 votes. The deliberation went on for 52 hours, 22 hours more than primarily agreed. The bill will then be under the Senate consideration.—Krungthep Turakij
    • The voting saw an unprecedented calls for cuts to the allocation of 8.76 billion THB for the monarchy by 47 opposition lawmakers (from Move Forward Party and the leader of Seri Ruamthai Party). The budget for royal agencies for the next fiscal year is, however, for a 2.4% cut compared to the previous year. This is the first call for reduction since all monarchy-related agencies were combined in 2017 after the succession of King Vajiralongkorn. The budget bureau had earlier explained to parliament’s budget committee that 92% of the allocated budget for the “royal agencies” is for the payroll of its 14,275 staff.–Reuters
      • After the vote, a vocal MP from the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) has dared the leader of Seri Ruamthai Party who was the former Police Chief to return all his Royal Declaration as the former police chief voted to cut the royal budget.– Matichon
      • Later a member from Seri Ruamthai Party wrote a petition to the House Speaker saying that he and the party leader would like to reverse their decision on voting no on the royal budget bill.–Matichon
    • Legal pundit and PPRP member Ruangkrai Leekitwattana has filed his request to the Election Commission to dissolve the Move Forward Party for its deliberation which Ruangkrai deemed as overthrowing the regime.—Prachachat Turakij
  • This morning, the mother of student-led protest leader Parit ‘Penguin’ Chiwarak has submitted a petition asking for the transfer of her COVID-positive son from jail to hospital. The Justice Ministry said the ministry has publicly updated the condition of the detained protestor and will consider by today whether to transfer Parit to hospital.–ThaiPBS
  • Yesterday, former PDRC leader Tanat Thanakitamnuay joined the anti-government Talu Fah Group who lost his right eye from an alleged tear gas used by riot control police last week.—Prachachat Turakij
    • Former PDRC leader and former Education Minister Nutthaphol Teepasuwan came out to criticise Tanat joining the protest dressing like the late King Bhumibol (in grey suits and had a camera on his neck). The fallen-from-grace politician said the gesture of his former comrade Tanat was beyond acceptable criticising the late King.—Krungthep Turakij
  • Princess Sirivannavari gave an interview with Vogue Thailand saying that the pandemic regards no class and that she is also in living in hardship. The princess claimed that she has not received the salary for three months and that she is proud that the fashion brand SIRIVANNAVARI has not laid off any employees. The princess has called for the Thai people to keep looking on the positive side of things.–Prachatai
    • In response to her comment, anti-establishment Free Youth Movement has criticised the remarks and has alerted their supporters to the upcoming gathering.
  • Tomorrow, the ‘Cheer-Lung’ [supporting Uncle Prayut]-a royalist PM supporter group-will team up with other like-minded groups to hand over their letter of petition to 15 foreign missions, including the UN, US, UK, Chinese and Australia. The petition aims to deter foreign interference in supporting the youth-led protests. There will be five ‘good-deed practitioners’ for each group to submit the letter, in accordance with the Emergency Decree regulation.—Cheer Lung
    • [Note] Earlier, the Group aimed to go to Taiwan ‘Embassy’ before changing to the Australian Embassy at 5.55pm yesterday.
  • The Metropolitan Police has announced that since July where the protest has re-emerged, the police has issued 118 summon orders (16 protest leaders and 102 protestors).—Krungthep Turakij

Analysis/ opinion

  • Real-estate tycoon Sansiri’s president Settha Taweesin has been regarded as top on the shortlist for PM candidate of Pheu Thai Party in the upcoming election. His frequent appearance in relatively newer media outlets have been viewed with suspicious eyes for his political ambition. Krungthep Turakij has viewed Settha as top candidate for ousted and self-exiled former PM Thaksin to gain more supports from the new-voters, the Move Forward stronghold.—Krungthep Turakij

Economic

  • The Bank of Thailand (BOT) has approved additional debt aid measures and adjusted the rules in light of the prolonged lockdown restrictions in response to COVID-19 outbreak.
  • SMEs – For new SME borrowers, the maximum credit line is raised from 20 million Baht to 50 million Baht per borrower. For existing SME borrowers, BOT maintains the previous rule where creditor is allowed to grant an additional credit line of 30 percent of the existing credit line (the ceiling is 150 million Baht).   As of 16 August, BOT has approved soft loans totaling 92.3 billion Baht and expects to approve 100 billion Baht in 4 months after the revised measures are implemented.
  • Retail/consumer loans (credit cards, personal loans and digital personal loans) – debt assistance measures are extended from the Dec 2021 until Dec 2022.  For credit card and personal loan debtor whose monthly income is below 30,000 Baht, banks can grant the maximum credit line at no more than 2 times their monthly income.  For digital personal loans, the ceiling credit line is raised to 40,000 Baht per borrower, and debt repayment period is 12 months.
  • The existing NPL classification and loan-loss reserve regulations are extended to March 31, 2022 and year-end 2023, respectively.
  • BOT also extended the lowered delivery fee of 0.23 percent for financial institutions to the Financial Institution Development Fund until the end of 2022.  Sources:  Bangkok Post  Bank of Thailand Press Release  Thansettakij
  • Thailand is heading for a rare current account deficit this year as the country misses out on the billions of dollars earned from tourism.  Thailand may post the first current deficit since 2013; a current account shortfall of USD10.3 billion (2 percent of GDP), by NESDC’s estimation.  Economists expect Thailand’s current account deficit will last at least until Q2 of 2022.  Add to it a budget deficit seen topping 10 percent of GDP for the 12 months through September, it’s a double blow for the Baht, which tumbled 10.3 percent in 2021 and is on course for its biggest annual drop since 2000.  Source:  Bloomberg
  • Operators of 57 sugar mills are struggling to procure Covid-19 vaccines for 800,000 workers and sugar cane farmers as the virus has hit some factories and threatens to severely affect this labour-intensive industry.  Thus far, 30-40% of the 800,000 in the industry, which includes farmers under sugar cane supply contracts, have been vaccinated.  If the infection spread continues, sugar output will be affected, said Mr Chalush. The industry plays a key role in driving the economy and supporting the livelihoods of many cane farmers, he said.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Some 3,578 tourists have departed Phuket by land since the Phuket Sandbox 7+7 Extension scheme took effect on Aug 17.  After 7 days on the 7+7 islands, tourists could proceed to other provinces, mostly to Bangkok, Surat Thani, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chiang Mai and Chon Buri provinces.
  • Since 1 July, 22,810 tourists had arrived under the Phuket Sandbox scheme, while room bookings had been made for 409,390 nights throughout July-September.
  • The Samui Plus program, which is now linked to Phuket Sandbox scheme, saw Koh Samui welcoming almost 400 visitors from the sandbox scheme.  They have booked nearly 3,000 room nights or an average of 9 nights per head, which is expected to earn a revenue of around 17.28 million baht.  Source:  Thai Post Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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