Advance Blog

March 24, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 24 March 2021

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesProvinces with confirmed casesDischarged from hospitalFrom 15 Dec, totally confirmed cases
6928,3466626,873 (at 94.80%)24,109
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding
61 [44 (get tested in hospital) + 17 (active case finding)] 8 (in SQ) 1,3811,892 (+43: 13 from active case finding)92 (+0)15,846
  • As Bangkok health authority keep on active case findings, the cluster in the Bang Kae district market is still significant, today health authority flags 61 newly confirmed cases and 4,768 cases awaiting results.–Prachachat
  • Yesterday, the cabinet had the resolution to file Thai iconic food ‘Tomyum Kung’ as the intangible cultural heritage to UNESCO. The Culture Minister said that this enlistment will create a positive image for Thai food.–Prachachat

Politics

  • The student-led protest will hold the demonstration at Ratchaprasong Intersection from 5.00pm. Today’s protest is organised by United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration and have minor protest leaders as the main speakers.
    • It is reported that the UFTD pick today as a day of mass gathering as the attorney-general may file arrest request to the court on the monarchy defamation charges. This will be the last chance the main figures will walk free.—Inside Thailand
  • HM the King has officially endorsed the new portfolios as three ministers were out of position due to a court verdict.—see attached for the new cabinet
    • Trinuch Thienthong (PPRP MP) as the Education Minister
    • Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn (PPRP MP) as the Digital Economy Minister
    • Sinit Lertkrai (Democrat MP) as the Deputy Commerce Minister
    • Weerasak Wangsupakitkosol (Bhumjaithai MP) as the Deputy Transport Minister
    • The Democrat Party and Bhumjaithai Party swapped their portfolio (earlier Democrat held the Deputy Transport Minister post and Bhumjaithai held Deputy Commerce Minister post).—all media outlet
  • In response to the dense reports that the Interior permanent secretary setting up a spare party as an alternative to the main ruling PPRP, there have been reactions from main government figures:
    • The PM said he would like to focus on this government before thinking of the next government. He affirmed he still does not have the idea of setting a new political party.–Prachachat
    • Deputy PM and PPRP leader Prawit replied by saying “I don’t know.”–Prachachat
  • It is reported that the government, in the weekly cabinet meeting, is eyeing to schedule an extraordinary parliament session on 7-8 April to discuss on different issues, including the postponed Referendum Bill.–Matichon
    • Deputy PM and the Government legal pundit said he personally thinks that the session is too early for the related agencies to amend the Referendum Bill accordingly.—Thai News Agency

Australia

  • Bhumtham Wechayachai, advisor to the Pheu Thai leader, said after he met with Australian Ambassador to Thailand that the Australian envoy has concerns with the situation in Thailand and keep watching how Thailand could democratise and dissolve political conflict. Once the conflict dissolved, it will be beneficial to the investment and international cooperation.—INN News

Economic:

Cabinet’s Decisions, 23 March 2021

  • Extend the third phase of Rao Tiew Duay Kun (We Travel Together) domestic tourism scheme to cover an additional 2 million people.  The scheme will run from May – August with stringent measures in place to prevent fraudulent activities.
  • Approved the new Tour Tiew Thai domestic tourism scheme where the government will subsidise 40 percent (maximum 5,000 Baht) for travellers who purchased tour packages worth at least 12,000 Baht from tour companies.  The scheme targets 1 million people and will run from May- August.
  • Acknowledged the Labour Ministry’s report on the social security Mor 33 Rao Rak Kan scheme, for which 1,000 Baht was disbursed to 5.7 million social security registrants, thereby generating 5.7 billion Baht for the economy.  Source: Naew Na
  • Approved the Bank of Thailand’s (BOT) financial measures worth 350 billion Baht.  This is repurposed from the remaining sum of the BOT’s 500 billion Baht soft loan, which saw a low disbursement rate of 26.6 percent. 
  • Soft loan (250 billion Baht) – it aims to help businesses, particularly hotels, revive and restart.  The terms of the soft loan were revised, such as by expanding the target group to include both new and existing borrowers, raise credit limits, lengthen loan tenors, amend interest rates and lengthen guarantee period.
  • Asset warehousing scheme (100 billion Baht) – the measure encompasses the transfer of collateral assets for debt settlement.  It also giving debtors the right to rent their assets or buy back their assets at a later period. 
  • Bank of Thailand (BOT) Governor Sethaput anticipates that the Thai economy will rebound to pre-COVID-19 levels in Q3 of 2022, with the recovery slow and uneven as tourism remains sluggish.  The number of foreign tourists might return to normal levels in 4-5 years at the quickest.  SourcesBangkok PostKrungthep Turakij  Post Today

Tourism

  • Airlines Association of Thailand said airline workers must be vaccinated within the next 2 months to coincide with the launch of Phuket’s tourism sandbox project, slated for July.  Inoculation of airline workers will boost the rebound in tourism and therefore the economy.  Source: Bangkok Post
  • Tourism Department has launched Safety Zone projects, with the goal being to pioneer 5 types of safe and clean zones for tourists in accordance with the new norm.  The project will debut in 5 areas comprising Ban Saen beach in Chonburi province, old town zone in Nan province as well as Yaowarat area and Asiatique shopping mall in Bangkok.  If successful, the Safety Zone projects will be implemented throughout Thailand.  Source:  Khao Sod

Others

  • Chinese automaker Great Wall Motor (GWM) plans to start production of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) at its manufacturing plant in Thailand by 2023, given that Thailand is expected to become a major EV production base.  GWM is also in talks with partners including the state energy authorities as well as real estate developers and shopping malls to expand the number of charging stations to serve BEV drivers.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Due to the pandemic, some 10,000 Village Funds with over 40,000 members are unable to repay their debts, which are at risk of becoming NPLs.  DPM Supattanapong instructed the Government Savings Bank and Bank of Agriculture and Cooperatives to negotiate with the Village Funds to offer assistance to these debtors to prevent them from going bankrupt.  Sources: Krungthep TurakijBangkok Post
  • The Agriculture Department plans to regulate the use of hemp and cannabis seeds, saying importers must seek permission from the department.  Source:  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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