Advance Blog

August 28, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 28 August 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports 6 newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,410 cases. Out of the total number, 3,237 have been discharged from hospital (at 94.93%); 115 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 58. The newly confirmed cases are Thais returned from Uzbekistan, the Philippines, Germany (2) and Ethiopia (2). This is the 95th consecutive day that there is no local transmission in Thailand.
    • Thai senior health officials said Thailand is to ease its novel coronavirus procedures to allow more patients from abroad to get treatment from next month. —Reuters
    • Interior Ministry’s Permanent Secretary has ordered governors to 10 provinces bordering Myanmar tightened security along the border to prevent illegal immigration, and strict health checks on people arriving through official crossings, as the Thai neighbouring country saw the second surge of COVID-19.—all media outlet
  • A court in Thailand handed a death sentence Thursday to an elementary school principal convicted of fatally shooting three people including a toddler during a robbery of a gold shop in Lopburi earlier this year.—all media outlet

Politics

  • The issue of submarine procurement is still on agenda:
    • After the designation that today the House Budget Committee will cast a vote either to pass the procurement of the submarine; or not, the vote will be on Monday, 31st.
    • Democrat party remains consistent in its stand point that the procurement should be postponed until next year.
  • Yesterday, the Army Chief made a public appearance saying that that there are no plans for any coup to be undertaken.—all media outlet

Business:

Pesticide Ban

  • Deputy Agriculture Minister Mananya threatens to ban the use of glyphosate if farmers continue to use them at a level higher than the limit set by the Hazardous Substance Committee.  Her statement came after the NGO Thai-Pan disclosed their survey results of farmers in 12 provinces, which revealed that most farmers have yet to reduce their usage of the chemicals.  Source:  Prachachat Turakij

PPE

  • Rubber Authority of Thailand (RAT) aims for Thailand to become the hub of natural rubber glove as Thailand is already the world’s second largest rubber glove exporter by volume and demand for them is surging globally.  With Thailand’s high-quality latex being the key component of its rubber gloves, the RAT is working with the Board of Investment and Commerce Ministry to promote foreign investments as well as strengthen the local rubber glove value chain.  Source:  Thansettakij

Tourism

  • The government is studying guidelines to open areas of Thailand to foreign tourists under the Safe & Sealed Areas for Tourism, while Tourism Minister Phiphat will lead a ministerial visit to Phuket from 2-4 September.  Thai Airways also plans to launch charter flights between Phuket and international destinations such as China, Denmark, Germany, Britain, South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong in late November this year.  Earlier, PM Prayut announced he was in talks with state agencies on how to open Thailand to foreign tourists after the pandemic situation improves.  Source:  The Nation   The Nation
  • Post COVID-19 tourism will have to enhance safety and health competitiveness as the industry’s priorities shift from volume to value, said Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).  Provinces within driving distance of Bangkok will see the fastest recovery, driven by local tourists that comprise Thais, expats and government/corporate employees.  In the best-case-scenario forecast for 2021, where a vaccine is available and international tourists can return in Q2 without a second wave outbreak, TAT expects Thailand to welcome 20.5 million tourists (48 percent down YoY) with revenue of 980 billion Baht (49 percent decline).   Source: Bangkok Post
  • Former Tourism Minister Weerasak Kowsurat calls for financial institutions to help tourism operators by offering soft loans with conditions that would lead to individual business restructuring in combination with debt holiday for 3 years.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Others

  • The Social Security Office announces it will start transferring the 3-month 15,000 Baht remedial cash to workers under Section 33 who had enrolled in the social security system for less than 6 months, in compliance with cabinet’s decision on 21 July.  Source:  Thansettakij
  • The Industry Ministry and Finance Ministry plans to stimulate domestic car sales by launching trade-in coupons worth 100,000 Baht each for car owners, as well as income tax deduction incentives.  This is an incentive for car owners to exchange their old cars aged 15 years or older for new cars or Electric Vehicles .  The scheme will be submitted for the cabinet’s approval in a few months.  Sources:  Bangkok Post The Nation
  • The Bank of Thailand issued a new debt consolidation measure that will reduce interest rate for loans (Minimum Retail Rate) from 16-25 percent to 5.5-8.8 percent, from 1 September 2020 – 31 December 2021.  Borrowers will be able to bundle their credit card, personal and mortgage loans into one sum.  Borrowers can then utilise collateral in their mortgage loans to restructure their debt total with financial institutions.  Debtors will be also allowed to extend their debt payment period.  Source:  The Nation
  • The government wants to raise the average yield of domestic paddy production to 600 kg per rai by 2024 and focus on premium-grade grains as part of the Thailand’s Strategic Rice Plan from 2020-2014  Commerce Minister Jurin said higher spending on R&D for rice seeds and variety are needed to achieve this goal, given that Thailand’s productivity is much lower than other rice-producing countries.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Commerce Ministry reported that new business registrations totalled 5,667 in July, down 12 percent YoY, with combined registered capital worth 16.7 billion baht, down 27 percent.  Compared to June, the number of new business registrations in July dropped 1 percent, but registered capital rose 13 percent.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Opinion/analysis

  • An analysis on the significance of competition over the Army Chief position between PM Prayut-backed candidate and General Apirat (thus King)-backed candidate showed that there is no unity in the strongest security apparatus in Thailand. The same pattern goes for the Air force. The new reshuffle would leave Prayut’s strong troika in jeopardy. Now military operations in Bangkok — pivotal to launching or crushing coups — are beyond Prayut’s control. An Asian diplomat based in Bangkok said General Apirat is unhappy with the way the Prayut government is dealing with protestors and had planned for a coup.—Nikkei Asian Review
  • An opinion piece on the Pheu Thai party under the de facto lead of its Chief Strategist Sudarat, the author said that the Opposition does not need a shrewd but soft-lining leader like her. This is a critical moment for Pheu Thai since if they are continuing their soft-lining card towards Prayut, they will lose their supporters to Move Forward Party and shares the same fate with the Democrat who has been hurted badly since the last election.—Thai Enquirer

Australia

  • Australian Kingsgate’s Akra gold mine arbitrary is back on agenda as the Twitter ‘#Akra Gold Mine’ is on trend after a leaked document from budget House Committee showed that the government has allocated 111 million THB for dispute settlement with the Australian company. The sentiment revolving around the tweets is that the government is using the government budget to settle PM Prayut flaw decision. Despite, earlier waves of rumours about Thailand losing the case, the process of arbitration is ongoing.–Matichon, Parchachart
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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