Advance Blog

March 23, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 23 March 2021

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesProvinces with confirmed casesDischarged from hospitalFrom 15 Dec, totally confirmed cases
40128,2776626,766 (at 94.66%)24,040
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding
383 [46 (get tested in hospital) + 337 (active case finding)] 18 (in SQ) 1,41918,49 (+352: 323 from active case finding)92 (+1 a 75-year-old Thai male with health conditions)15,829
  • 318 out of 401 newly confirmed cases are from the active case findings in an Immigration Bureau Office in Bang Khaen.
  • Deputy PM and Public Health Minister Anutin said prior to the weekly cabinet meeting that he will take the second Sinovac jab today. The top health official informed the press that the Thai-developed vaccine as produced by GPO is making progress and have been inoculated in more than 100 volunteers. The vaccine is expected to be deployed next year.–Reuters, Krungthep Turakij, Matichon

Politics:

  • HM the King has received all the injured from the violence on 20th March protest under the King’s patronage.—all media outlet
  • Cancel culture remains salient in Thai politics with the new campaign to boycott hotpot chain MK Suki for their continual support of the right-wing Top News outlet.–Prachachat
    • The son and daughther of the Higher Education Minister from the royalist Action Coalition for Thailand (ACT) Party posted their photos eating MK dismissing the ban.–Matichon
    • Background: Top News is a new online television outlet pledged to protect and uphold the monarchy. Many of its anchor left Nation TV earlier when the TV channel was under boycott for their reports on the pro-democracy protests.

Analysis/opinion:

  • It is reported that as the Parliament has passed half of its term, the inner circle of the government is eyeing to set up a new political party as the intra-party conflicts in the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) is beyond repair. Deputy PM and PPRP leader Prawit is reportedly told Interior Minister Anupong to set up the party as a spare party for the upcoming election and the Interior permanent secretary is set to lead the party after this retirement in September.—Krungthep Turakij

Economic:

Australia

  • Australia is evacuating thousands of civilians from the state of New South Wales, which is being inundated by the worst flood in 60 years.  Sources:  Matichon Khao Sod

Tourism

  • Tourism Authority of Thailand will submit the Phuket Tourism Sandbox model for CESA’s approval on this Friday 26 March.  Similarly to the travel bubble scheme, the sandbox model will allow tourists from designated countries to fly directly to Phuket without quarantine requirements from 1 July onward.  The first batch of tourists could possibly come from China or long-haul markets. Phuket will test this model before Thailand reopens its borders in October.  Phuket Tourist Association estimates the sandbox scheme will bring in 84.3 billion Baht to the island.  Sources:  Bangkok Post Khao Sod
  • At the Thailand Tourism Forum 2021, hoteliers pressure the government to speed up the COVID-19 vaccination timeframe and use an emergency decree to allow companies to quickly import and administer the vaccines.  Hoteliers demand the government roll out a concrete vaccination roadmap and digitise the paperwork needed for tourists to enter Thailand.  Reopening date should start on July rather than October, considering that 50 percent of hotel workers have already lost their jobs.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Others

  • Economists contended that while Thailand will soon become a full-fledged ageing society, it is still stuck in the middle-income trap.  Thai households also have a low rate of savings.  TDRI’s survey found that only 0.5 percent of total households (120,000 families) in Thailand had an income exceeding 2.8 million Baht.  This is at odd with NESDC’s research that said those in urban areas will need a saving of 4.3 million Baht per household to have sufficient cash for the retirement age of 60.  Economists suggest the government reform the economy by integrating innovations and technologies, upskilling human labour and build up financial security for the elderly.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Transport Ministry plans to launch three motorway projects worth a combined 83.52 billion Baht this year.  The first project is the Ekkachai-Ban Phaeo motorway in Samut Sakhon (19.7 billion Baht), followed by the Rangsit-Bang Pa-in motorway (28.13 million Baht) and lastly the Srinagarindra-Suvarnabhumi airport motorway (35.68 million Baht).  Sources: Bangkok Post Prachachat Turakij
  • PM Prayut instructed Finance Ministry to accelerate the launch of fresh economic stimulus measures, as well as to extend existing stimulus packages, such as the third phase of the government co-payment subsidy scheme; the Rao Chana cash handout scheme; and Social Security Section 33 scheme.  Finance Ministry revealed Fiscal that spending through the government co-payment scheme almost reached 100 billion Baht, while the Rao Chana cash handout scheme amounted to 147 billion Baht.  It was reported that the supply of savings in the economy has increased since the pandemic struck, with DPM Supattanapong asking Finance Ministry to launch measures to stimulate spending and spur domestic econom.  Sources:  Krungthep Turakij  Bangkok Post
  • Commerce Ministry signed MoUs with 36 state and private agencies to implement 16 measures to prevent the problem of fruit oversupply.  This year, the supply of fruit is expected to further increase by 23 percent to 5.4 million tonnes, especially pineapples.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Thai-Chinese joint venture SAIC Motor-CP aims to bolster the MG brand’s foothold in the Thai electric vehicle (EV) industry by increasing investment in battery production for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV).  The company will increase battery production capacity to 700-800 units per month, up from 300-400 units under the PHEV Battery Shop project to be carried out at its car manufacturing plant in Chon Buri.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) eyes a 4 percent growth for its farm lending scheme to 69 billion Baht for this financial year.  BAAC will build up a social safety net for farmers and farming communities with networking partners to upgrade farm products and services; invest more in R&D, marketing and social and environmental care.  Source:  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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