Advance Blog

January 27, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 27 January 2021

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesProvinces with confirmed casesDischarged from hospitalFrom 15 Dec, totally confirmed cases from clusters
81915,4656311,054 (at 71.48%)10,409
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding
808 [92 (get tested in hospital) + 716 (active case finding)] 11 (in SQ)4,335727 [721 reported by BMA yesterday + 6 by CCSA today]76 (+1 a-56-year-old Thai male with stroke)6,2
  • The CCSA spokesperson briefed the press on the meeting of the committee on easing restriction. Three issues were discussed:
    • The proposal in easing the lockdown as proposed by the Public Health Ministry,
      • The proposal stated that there will be a set-up of buffer provinces, categorisation of provinces into five categories, each provincial authority may consider amending the restriction according to district level severity (currently the restriction is based on the provincial level).
      • In the categorisation into five levels, some examples are maximum control with strict measures (Samut Sakhon), maximum control (Bangkok, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan) 
    • The proposal to extend the dine-in hours, serving alcoholic beverages and the live music performance, and
    • The proposal to re-open educational institutions.
      • The proposal suggested remains closure for Samut Sakhon and stricter measures, including alternate study
    • More information on the proposal will be elaborated in the 3 pm press briefing. The resolution will need to get approval from the plenary CCSA meeting led by the PM on Friday. 
  • CCSAspokesperson said that as Thai health authority is trying to conduct as much as 10,000 active case finding samples a day, the public should not be alert with the surging in numbers.

Politics

  • It is reported that in the weekly meeting, the cabinet approved 191 million THB budget to the Royal Thai Police to look after the protests. In the meeting, media reported that Juti Krailerk, Minister of Social Development and Human Security from the Democrat Party had some reservations that approving the budget now could make the government become political target.–Matichon
  • In the competition to become the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) candidate between former Police Chief and partner to Education Minister, it seems that the former Police Chief Chakthip will have a go. It is reported that at the party HQ, Deputy PM Prawit as the party leader ordered its Bangkok MP to meet him one-by-one and ask for their support to the winner of the Bangkok governor election Pol Gen Chakthip.–Prachachat
  • It is reported that the security apparatus is looking into the moves by the former leader of now-defunct Future Forward Party Thanathorn and the student-led protestors very closely. Security sectors, according to the report, believe that the extra-parliamentary movement is trying to synchronise their movements with the upcoming censure debate and use protestors and international organisations to pressure the Parliament. A source in the security sectors is quoted saying that March is going to be a concerning month as there are going to the vote on the third reading of the constitutional amendment proposal and the deliberation on the second and third reading of the referendum bill, it is believed that there will be a motion to amend the criminal code to abolish Article 112 Lelse majeste presented in the House.–Krungthep Turakij

Australia

  • His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua sent a letter of congratulations to Australian Governor-General David Hurley on the occasion of Australia Day.–all media outlet
  • Thai media cited a BBC report that there were thousands of protestors gathered in defiant of COVID restriction to voice their views against the designation of Australia 26 as the national day. Protestors in major cities of Australia walked the street in solidarity against what they called the ‘invasion day’ against Indigenous people. At least five people who tried to clash with the police were apprehended.–Thai Rath, Khao Sod, Naew Na
  • Pheu Thai deputy leader Pichai Naripthaphan proposed 19 points vision that the party will do should they are the government. One of them is to fasten the FTA negotiation with major countries, including the US, EU and Australia.–Thai Rath

Economic:

Cabinet’s Decisions, 26 January 2021

The cabinet approved of 250 billion Baht worth of relief packages, including Rao Chana cash-handout scheme, including: 

  • Reducing land and building tax by 90 percent, extended from last year.  This will incur a loss of 41.4 billion Baht worth of state revenue.
  • Reducing fee for transactions of properties valued at 3 million Baht or less, from 2 percent to 0.01 percent, as well as for mortgages from 1 percent of the loan to 0.01 percent until 31 December 2021.  This will cost the government 5.6 billion Baht loss of revenue
  • Extending the deadline for the filing of personal income tax from March 31 to June 30, only applicable to filing through online channel
  • Approved of further reduction in employees’ monthly contributions to the Social Security Fund under Section 33 from 3 percent to 0.5 percent of the salary, and contributions of the self-insured under Section 39 from 278 Baht to 38 Baht from February to March.  This will benefit 12.9 million employees, 485,000 employers and inject 23.1 billion Baht into the economy.
  • A 1-year exemption of the annual 1,000 Baht fee for spas and a 1-year exemption of an annual 500 Baht fee for massage businesses affected by the pandemic.  Sources:  Manager Online  Bangkok Post  Matichon

Tourism

  • Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) disclosed that 1.04 million people in the tourism sector lost their job in 2020.  In 2021, an additional 2 million of the total 4 million people working in the sector is expected to become jobless because of the current outbreak.  This will take a heavy toll on the Thai economy and chip away the tourism industry’s capacity to revive the economy. 
  • According to TCT’s survey, in Q4 of 2020, some 10 percent of tourism businesses suspended their operations temporarily and 3 percent had shut down permanently.  While 85 percent of tourism-related businesses remained open, 50 percent had reduced their employee number by 30-40 percent.  Employees are also earning 20-30 percent less as their salaries and working hours are slashed.  Tourism confidence index for the Q1 of 2021 also dropped from Q4 of 2020 due to concerns from the pandemic outbreak.
  • TCT proposed to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports the establishment of ‘Tourism Labour Bank’ within March 2021.  The Bank will develop a tourism employment database and assist workers to join upskilling and reskilling training programs.  The Thai Hotels Association (THA) also called for the government to launch a co-payment scheme by subsidising 50 percent of the monthly salaries of the 800,000 tourism workers to maintain employment.  THA noted that 80 percent of hoteliers in major destinations such as Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi, Phangnga and Bangkok, have temporarily closed.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij  Bangkok Post  Thai PBS World

Others

  • The financial resilience of Thai banks will be tested this year as debt moratoriums expire, according to S&P Global Ratings.  Banks’ NPL ratio is expected to increase up to 6 percent in the next 12-24 months from 3 percent on 2020.  Credit risk in Thailand is also heightened due to elevated household debts.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Foreign investment funds (excluding term funds or short-term fixed-income funds) recorded a 27.5 percent growth from 2019 with total net asset value of 840 billion baht, accounting for 21 percent of the Thai mutual fund market, an increase from around 10 percent in 2016. Chinese equity funds recorded the highest net asset value of 120 billion baht in 2020, a 185 percent increase from the previous year, with an average return of nearly 19 percent.  Source:  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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