Advance Blog

November 25, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 25 November 2021

News

Newly confirmed casesTotal CasesDeath tollTotal vaccination
6,335 (30 from prisons)2,088,327 (last seven days: 44,202)37 (last seven days: 327)90,468,955 (+574,772)
1st dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)2nd dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)3rd dose vaccine recipients (from 16 July) 
47,233,526 (+199,502)40,056,072 (+331,802)3,179,357 (+43,468) 
  • The Deputy PM and the Public Health Minister signed procurement contract for the 30 million doses of Pfizer vaccines. The deputy head of the Department of Disease Control said that the 10 million doses of the procured vaccines will be used to inoculate 5-11 years old citizen and the rest will be up for the new vaccine cocktail (without saline mixture).—Khao Sod

Politics

  • During the meeting for the Ministry of Defence Council, the PM and Defence Minister affirmed that there will be no House Dissolution, even after the organic laws are finalised. The PM said it is up to the situation at the time after the APEC Summit meeting next year whether he will dissolve the House. The PM said that if he is free, he will join the coalition unity dinner on 3 December.—Thai Rath
  • As the office of the Prime Minister secretariat has procured more than 100 iPhones for its officials and has sparked online criticism for overspending during the pandemic crisis.—Thai Enquirer
    • The Mirror Foundation has asked for the old iPhones to give to disadvantaged kids to pursue their online study during the pandemic.—Prachachat Turakij
    • Natreya Thaweewong, Advisor to the Prime Minister said that she would request the Mirror Foundation to send a letter of intent to the Office of the Defense Forces will proceed in accordance with the regulations.–Matichon
  • A pro-monarchy group is scheduled to hand over their letter of complaint to the PM today, calling for the authority to expel international human rights civil society Amnesty International Thailand out of the Kingdom. The right wing group said Amnesty Thailand’s campaign of ‘Letter to Panusaya’ calling for the seize of prosecution of the student-led activist is violating the national security and the monarchy.—Khao Sod
    • The PM, however, gave an interview calling for the resolve of conflict on the issue.—Thai Rath
  • Prachachat Turakij cited two sources which argued conflicting views on the possibility of the PM setting up a new political party. A main figure in the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party said that the reports that neither PM Prayut is setting up a new party nor former Interior permanent-secretary’s party is just a rumour. Meanwhile, a senior official in the Government House said that as the PM has a persistent character, it is possible that the PM will not totally rely on the PPRP under Thammanat. The source said it all boiled down to how much the PM can trust the party’s secretary-general.—Prachachat Turakij
  • A drafter of the 2016 Constitution said that by political practice, the government must dissolve the House once the organic law has been finalised. Dr. Jade Donavanik, former adviser to the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) said that if the government does not dissolve the House, it must have the answer to the people on why there was an amendment of the constitution in the first place. The legal pundit raised the example of the Abhisit Government which dissolve the House right after the amendment was finalised.–Matichon
  • Apple Inc issued alert messages to at least six Thai activists and researchers who have been critical of the government, warning it believed their iPhones had been targeted by “state-sponsored attackers”.
    • The six activists include Progressive Movement’s secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkun, political activist Elia Fofi, political scientists from Chulalongkorn and Thammasat Universities, Economic commentator Sarinee Achavanuntakul and a major figure in Thammasat student-led movement.
    • It is expected that the ‘state-sponsored attack’ is from Israeli Pegasus spyware which Thai state has managed to procure.—Khao Sod and BBC Thai

Economic:

  • The Eastern Economic Corridor Office (EECO) has signed an MoU with the Chinese bank ICBC (Thailand) to bolster bilateral trade and investments, specifically investment into the EEC zone.  This 3-year cooperation will result in the launch of the EEC Equity Fund to bring in investments into new industrial projects.  EECO and ICBC will be promoting 4 new industries in the EEC, namely: 1 medical and healthcare; 2. digital technology; 3) decarbonisation industries (electric vehicles) and 4) transport and logistics.  Development of these industries will be based on circular green economy.  In fact, CBC is designated as a financial and investment consultant to attract high potential investors into the EEC zone.  Source:  Bangkok Post  Thai Public Relations Department news  Krungthep Turakij
  • The new company that will be established through the merger of True and DTAC Plc will have a 33.1 percent stake equally held by Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group and Norway’s Telenor, according to an analyst.  A 10.1 percent stake will be held by China Mobile and the rest by individual shareholders.  NBTC has asked both companies to provide regular updates on the merger’s development and to also explain the reason for the merger and the timeline of the process as well as possible impacts and remedies for consumers.  Source:  Bangkok Post Krungthep Turakij newspaper, 25 November 2021
  • The government approved a further 155 billion Baht to fund an income guarantee scheme for farmers.  The State Monetary and Fiscal Policy Committee, chaired by PM Prayut, had agreed to temporarily raise the ceiling of the state borrowing framework according to Section 28 of the State Fiscal and Financial Discipline Act – currently capped at 30 percent of the annual expenditure budget – to 35 percent for 1 year.  This means the government has room to borrow an additional 155 billion Baht, with the change set to take effect next week.  Sources:  Krungthep Turakij Bangkok Post
  • At the Thailand 2022 Unlock Value seminar, Finance Minister Arkhom said the government has started unlocking the country since November and is looking to unlock the economy 100 percent by next year.  He noted there is need for limits in using monetary and fiscal tools such as the government loan that already totals 1.5 trillion Baht and public debt ceiling that is raised to 70 percent.  The government will also reduce reliance on tourism and finding a balance between manufacturing and service sectors.  The EEC, Thailand’s new economic growth engine, will unlock new economic areas through the use of innovations.  As COVID-19 situation improves, the government is also looking to ease the cash-handout and will focus more on income generation measures.   Source:  Prachachat Turakij 
  • Bank of Thailand (BOT) is concerned that the economy may only be recovering and not growing because income, tourism figures and employment rate remain low, while household debt is soaring.  BOT warned that if the government does not borrow 1.5 trillion Baht, GDP could contract by 9 percent.  Source:  Khao Sod newspaper, 25 November 2021
  • Dr Supavud Saicheua, adviser at Kiatnakin Phatra Financial Group, urges the government to stop relying on international tourists and to boost domestic tourism.  Of particular concerns are the rising global inflation, Thailand’s rising household debt due to low household income and the government’s excessive loans.  The government should also restructure the debts and NPLs accumulated by SMEs in order to move the economy forward.  Source:  Prachachart Turakij  Bangkok Post
  • Joblessness among youths in Thailand has reached an unprecedented level due to the impact of the COVID-19, according to the ILO’s Thailand Labour Market Update released this week.  Youth unemployment rate increased by 3 percent for both men and women, reaching a high of 6 percent and 8 percent, respectively.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Credit Bureau is concerned about Thailand’s household debt situation.  According to its database of 31 million debtors, some 20.7 percent has debts from personal loan and 7 percent from credit card loan.  This combined 27 percent loan is worrisome because they are for daily consumption and the debtors may not yet regain enough income to service their debts.  Credit Bureau noted NPLs may rise significantly after June 2022 when the government’s debt restructuring measures cease, with NPL potentially reaching 1 trillion Baht.  To date, NPL in Q3 2021 is 7.7 percent (970 billion Baht) based on Credit Bureau’s database and debts that could turn into NPL rising by 2.5 percent.  Source:  Prachachart Turakij
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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