Advance Blog

December 24, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 24 December 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesAccumulated cases for active case finding among migrant workersDischarged from hospital
+675,8291,2734,116 (at 70.52%)
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised Death toll
58 [Samut Sakhon-55, Tak-1, Community-2]8 (in SQ)+1 (illicit entry from Cambodia)1,653 60
  • The PM has met with the CCSA and issued the following measures:
    • Provinces will be divided into four categories:
      • Highly controlled: The area with a lot of COVID cases (Samut Sakhon)
      • Controlled: The area next to the red zone or area with more than 10 COVID cases and tendency of increasing numbers (Western Bangkok, Samut Songkram, Ratchaburi and Nakhon Pathom)
      • Under high surveillance: The area with less than 10 COVID cases and tendency to be able to control the transmission (Saraburi, Samut Prakarn, Suphan Buri, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Uttaradit, Chachoengsao, Petchbuti, Pecthchabun, Ayutthaya, Phuket and Khampaengpetch)
      • Under surveillance: The provinces with no COVID case.
    • Each zone has the following health measures, the CCSA spokesperson said this is subject to change:
SeverityPublic VenuesBusinesses and factoriesEducational InstitutionsTravel in or outEventsApplicationWork from Home
Highly controlled (Red)ClosedCan still operates as usualOnlineThai people also restrictedNo public events allowed, only onlineMor Chana + Thai ChanaWFH
Controlled (Orange)Limited operating hoursCan still operates as usualOnlineAllowedNo public events; only limited participant event allowed (among friends or family)(Mor Chana) Thai ChanaFor those from Maximum control areas
High surveillance (Yellow)Limited operating hours for risky venuesCan still operates as usualOnlineAllowedAllowed with smaller scaleThai ChanaAs appropriate
Under surveillance (Green)Limited operating hours for risky venuesCan still operates as usualN/AAllowedAllowed with smaller scaleThai ChanaN/A
  • In all areas, authority limits the movement of migrant workers.
  • Each governor will need to impose their own restrictions.
  • The CCSA briefing will resume for both in Thai and English on daily basis for the time being.
  • The director-general of the Department of Medical Sciences gave an interview to a media that the DNA of the coronavirus in the new wave of infection is the same as the strains in India and Myanmar.—Inside Thailand
  • So far, there have been areas in five provinces which are under lockdown:
    • Samut Sakhon is now “quarantines area” until 3 January
    • Samut Songkram until 4 January, cancelling all public events
    • Samut Prakan until 4 January
    • Chiang Mai in Tha Ton, Malika and Mae Ai sub-districts
    • Suphan Buri’s Song Song Pee Nong district

Politics

  • The Senate has submitted two representatives to join the National Reconciliation Committee as proposed by the House Speaker. The two representatives are Wallop Tangkhananurak and Chaweerat Kasetsunthorn. The Senate whip spokesperson said the two were nominated because of the continual experiences in social sectors and political neutrality.–Prachachat
  • Yesterday, the Parliament has passed the first reading of the cabinet-sponsored legalisation of the early-stage abortions. If passed, the bill will legalise women who are up to 12 weeks pregnant to have abortions performed by a qualified doctor should they request it for any reason.—Bangkok Post, Krungthep Turakij
  • Media reports that there were political cloth banners at the Democracy Monument and at the Bangkok Central Railway Station saying ‘Control COVID as effective as control the protestors’ and ‘No 112’ respectively.–Matichon

Economic

Cabinet’s Decisions, 23 December 2020

  • Reduces Social Security Fund (SSF) contributions of employers and workers under Section 33 to 3 percent from 5 percent for 3 months to cope with the pandemic outbreak, from 1 January – 31 March 2021.  Likewise, SSF contributions of self-insured workers under Section 39 is also slashed from 432 Baht to 278 Baht monthly.  Source:  Thansettakij
  • Approved for Social Security Fund (SSF) registrants who are became jobless from COVID 19 to receive 50 percent compensation of their daily wage, with the ceiling of 15,000 Baht for  90 days, effective on 19 December.  The number of eligible workers is estimated at 5.7 million and would cost the SSF around 5 billion Baht.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Acknowledged Ministry of Finance’s medium-term fiscal policy framework for 2022-25 that targets economic growth of 2.7-4.2 percent.  Net revenue between 2022-25 is estimated to range from 2.4 trillion – 2.75 trillion baht, while budget deficit is anticipated at 700 billion Baht for year 2022, 710 billion Baht in year 2023 before going down to 690.5 billion Baht and 669.50 billion Baht in year 2024 and 2025, respectively.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Tourism

  • Tourism Ministry admonished the hope that international arrivals would resume in Q1 of 2021 and expects Thailand to face a long period of ‘drought’ in international tourism.  Given the recurrence of pandemic outbreak, there is currently no demand from tourists to visit Thailand.  Tourism may restart after international flights resume, possibly in April, with mass vaccination anticipated to begin in the middle of next year.  Tourism Ministry expects to receive 10 million international arrivals in 2021.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Trade

  • Commerce Minister Jurin revealed that the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent border closure have led to a -40 percent fall in Thailand’s border trade with Myanmar.  Commerce Ministry is consulting with the public and private sectors on plans to adapt to this change, given that Thai export is still in high demand; the obstacles being exporting and importing procedures to and from neighbouring countries.  Source:  Matichon
  • Thailand’s export is projected to grow by +4 percent in 2021, driven by food, work-from-home products, home appliances, healthcare, the availability of vaccine and the recovering global economies.  Commerce Ministry noted that the pandemic outbreak that the recent COVID-19 outbreak may disrupt the seafood supply chain and export of related items.
  • For November, Thailand’s export declined by -3.65 percent YoY to USD18.9 billion, while import decreased by 0.99 percent to USD18.9 billion, with a trade surplus of USD52.6 million.  Exported items that expanded include automobile parts (+13.3 percent), microwave oven and heating appliance (+41.3 percent) and cell phone and parts (+35.5 percent).  For the first 11 months of 2020, Thai exports contracted by -6.92 percent to USD211 billion and imports by -13.7 percent to USD188 billion, leaving a trade surplus of USD23.5 billion.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Others

  • Bank of Thailand (BOT) has slashed Thailand’s 2021 GDP growth projection to 3.2 percent from the original forecast of 3.6 percent because of the new pandemic outbreak.  Foreign tourist arrival in 2021 is anticipated at 5.5 million, down from the earlier projection of 9 million.  Vaccination coverage in Thailand is expected to reach 20 percent in Q4 of 2021 and The Thai population would achieve herd immunity in Q2 of 2022, with 60-70 percent of vaccination coverage.   Under this scenario, Thailand would re-open to foreign tourists from the second half of 2021.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Ministry of Finance affirms that the Thai economy can withstand another round of lockdown.  For FY 2021, the government has an expenditure budget of 3.284 trillion Baht, with budget deficit forecasted at 623 billion Baht.  Moreover, of the 1 trillion Baht emergency loan, there is currently 600 billion Baht left of unused sum, which should be sufficient for potential lockdown.  There is also fiscal space to borrow 700 billion Baht within the public debt to GDP ceiling of 60 percent.  Foreign reserve is ample, standing at an unprecedented level of 255 billion USD. Sources:  Thai Post Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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