Advance Blog

July 23, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 23 July 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)
14,575 (1,072 from prisons)467,707 [last seven days: 80,917]3,984/ 900320,152 (+7,775)438,84411,805,180 (+266,314)17.83% of the population
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollTotal vaccination (doses)2nd dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)
13,490 [9,889 (get tested in hospital) + 3,601 (active case finding)]13 (in SQ)143,744 [61,9361 in field hospital]126,610 (+3,104)3,811 (+114) [last seven days: 665]15,388,939 (+279,576)23.25% of the population3,583,759 (+37,929)5.41% of the population
  • The PM yesterday approved the plan for tourists who entered Phuket Sandbox for seven days can travel to nearby resort areas in Surat Thani, Krabi and Pang Ngha for seven more days, beginning from 1 August.—Thai Rath
  1. National Health Security Office (NHSO) said that about 10% of over 50,000 people in Bangkok checked using antigen test kits (ATK) since July 12, under an active screening campaign, have tested positive for COVID-19. In the next step, the NHSO will distribute ATKs, free of charge, to some high-risk groups, so they can take the tests themselves, adding that the office will announce from where the kits can be obtained.—ThaiPBS World
  2. There has been online backlash, soon after the government passed a new regulation which categorises tampons as a cosmetic product, causing the widespread belief that the product, which is a necessity for many menstrual women, would be subject to 30% tax. Later it turned out that the tampons are exempted from the luxury taxes.—all media outlet
  3. The Chulabhorn Royal Academy announced that the academy plans to procure 9 million doses of Sinophram vaccines between July and August 2021. The academy under the patronage of Princess Chulabhorn has imported 3 million doses of Sinopharm and within the next two weeks, the Kingdom will get 2 more million doses.—Krungthep Turakij

Politics

  • Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) said a total of 154 pro-democracy demonstrators from eight protest groups were prosecuted between July 2 and 18 for charges regarding the violation of emergency decree and disease control acts. The police is seeking to ask the Criminal Court to revoke temporary release granted to pro-democracy leaders who broke bail conditions by joining protests.—Nation Thailand
  • The Army is under the other round of criticism as there was a circulation of a request letter from Protocol Division of the Army asking the Red Cross to allocate the Modern vaccine to the division personnels and their families.—Matichon
    • Wassana Nanuam, Army reporter, said last night that the letter was ‘neither fake nor official’ and that the Supreme Command of the Thai Armed Force has launched a committee to probe this document.—Matichon
  1. Political activist Sombat Bunngamanong is calling for the other ‘Car Mob’ on 1 August on every street in Thailand in defiance against the mismanagement of the pandemic by the government.—Matichon
  • Despite the dense reports thatInterior Ministry Permanent Secretary will set up a new political party, the twin party of the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party, the most recent report is that the head of the ministry has not decided to set up the party but will wait until retirement in October. The permanent-secretary said that after retirement he might return to politics if he still finds himself beneficial to the nation.—Krungthep Turakij
  • Deputy ruling Democrat Party leader has requested the PM and Defence Minister to use military premises around the country, especially in Bangkok as field hospitals or hospitalisation waiting areas.—Krungthep Turakij
  • The House Speaker came out to warn the government of the overuse of legal actions against influencers who came out to criticise the government. The head of Legislative defended the freedom of expression, but should not be excessive.—Krungthep Turakij

Analysis/ opinion

  • Thai Rath regarded that despite ruling Bhumjaithai and Democrat parties having serious talks on leaving the coalition, the PM had signalled that he can work with minority government and will choose to reshuffle the cabinet, instead of dissolving the Parliament. Leaving the coalition will give the two parties short-term popularity, but the PM can lead the minority government only by issuing Decree. The government will keep on working together for the time-being.—Thai Rath
  • Wassana Nanuam, army reporter, cited sources close to Deputy PM Prawit said that Prime Minister Prayut will not run in the next election as he has fatigued serving.—Ring Side การเมือง

Economic News Summary

Tourism

  • CESA has approved for foreign visitors participating in Phuket sandbox scheme to visit other tourist spots through sealed routes starting from 1 August, including Surat Thani’s Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao; Krabi’s Koh Phi Phi, Koh Ngai and Railay Bay; and Pnangnga’s Khao Lak, Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi.  Phuket is envisaged as a hub for distributing foreign tourists to other destinations in Thailand. Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) noted the Phuket Sandbox Scheme recorded 9,358 foreign tourists and has generated 534 million Baht.  The Samui Plus program welcomed 17 tourists to Koh Samui in the first 15 days of its reopening. 
  • Ministry of Tourism and Sports said Buriram province will not reopen this year as it has postponed hosting the Moto GP race.  The reopening of Hua Hin and Cha-am will most likely take place in October, while the reopening Bangkok and Pattaya dates might be re-assessed due to the severe outbreaks.   Source:  Bangkok Post, Thansettakij newspaper 22-24 July 2021,  Bangkok Post

Others

  • On 4 June, CESA approved DPM Supattanapong’s scheme to offer long-stay visas to 4 groups of foreigners: rich global citizens, wealthy retirees and rich professionals as well as highly-skilled professionals working in Thailand.  They are entitled to a 10-year visa years and can own land and property.  However, Finance Ministry voiced opposition to the scheme’s proposal for a 17 percent personal income tax on local earnings for foreign investors – a point of contention which CESA has ordered relevant agencies to urgently resolve.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Federation of Thai Industries proposed that the government secure another 1 trillion Baht loan on top of the existing 5 billion Baht loan to spur the economy.   Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) advised the government to use the existing 5 billion Baht loan immediately for relief measures, noting that the recently-approved relief measures of 42 billion Baht is insufficient to offset the 90 – 120 billion Baht of monthly economic loss stemming from the lockdown of 13 provinces.  The additional 1 trillion Baht loan should be used to stimulate the economy when 30-40 percent of the population is vaccinated. The fiscal injection should accelerate further after 50 percent of the population is inoculated to prepare the economy for a take-off.
  • TCC asked the government to relax the regulations to enable financial institutions to give out loans to more SMEs.  Of the 250 billion Baht soft loan offered by Bank of Thailand, only 72.4 billion Baht is disbursed as of 12 July.  Of the 100 billion Baht asset warehousing scheme, only 958 billion Baht is disbursed, bringing the total amount of loans disbursed from these 2 schemes to 73.3 billion Baht.
  • The Restaurant Association of Thailand called for the government to allow restaurants located inside shopping malls to reopen their kitchens and resume delivery service, considering that the government’s relief measures are not enough to help them survive.  In the past year, restaurants have lost over 100 billion Baht, and are expected to lose another 100 billion Baht in 45 days should the lockdown intensify.  Source: Thansettakij
  • The Federation of Thai Capital Market Organization advised the government to temporarily raise the public debt ceiling to 70-75 percent of GDP, or borrow another 800 billion – 1 trillion Baht to boost the economy.  The Thai economy is at high risk off slipping back into a recession, for which Thailand will become one of the few countries in the world where the economy will be in a slump while others recover.  This would also mark the first time since the 1997 Tom Yum Kung financial crisis that the Thai economy is in a recession for 2 consecutive years.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • In the best-case-scenario, the Bank of Thailand (BOT) expects that the lockdown will chip away only 0.8 percent of Thailand’s GDP growth if the outbreak is contained in August and the restrictions are relaxed by mid-August.  In the worst-case-scenario, GDP will fall by 2 percent should the outbreak not come under control and the lockdown is extended until year-end.   Economic activities under the current lockdown have dropped to almost the same level as last year’s lockdown restrictions in April.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Airport Authority of Thailand and Aeronautical radio of Thailand (Aerothai) said they have been assisting the airlines that are affected by COVID-19 by waiving or offering discounts on various fees.  In fact, these measures have affected Aerothai’s liquidity such that it is now in need of loans.  Source:  Bangkok Post  Krungthep Turakij
  • Federation of Thai Industries raised Thailand’s total car production target for 2021 to 1.55 – 1.6 million units, fuelled by good export prospect despite the pandemic dealing a blow on domestic demand.  Of this figure, car export is anticipated to reach 800,000 – 850,000 units, up from 750,000 units.  On the contrary, FTI had lowered its car production target for the domestic market to below 750,000; declining from last year’s 790,000.  Sources:  Bangkok Post  Thansettakij
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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