Advance Blog

September 30, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 30 September 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports five newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,564 cases. Out of the total number, 3,374 have been discharged from hospital (at 94.67%); 131 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 59. The newly confirmed cases are returnees from South Sudan (1), India (3) and Kuwait (1) and have been in state quarantine since.
    • Yesterday, the cabinet has passed its resolution to extend the visa amnesty for foreigners who are stranded in Thailand due to the pandemic to be able to stay in Thailand until 31 October.—Thai Government

Politics

  • It is reported that the PM has discussed with party leaders of the Coalition before the weekly cabinet meeting yesterday. According to the report, the PM has agreed to let the constitutional amendment Section 256 to proceed allowing the Constitutional Drafting Assembly to be proceed in a bid to reduce the political tensions. Varawut Silapa-acha, the Natural Resources Minister and the leader of Chart Thai Pattana Party confirmed that there was a talk on this.—Inside Thailand
  • Development related to the split within the main Opposition Pheu Thai party remains salient:
    • Yesterday, the freshly resigned Chief Strategist Sudarat broke her silence by saying that she remains the party’s member, despite not taking any executive position. The Bangkok-based veteran politician said she will only help recruit the party’s nomination for the Bangkok’s governor, dismissing the rumour that she will run for the position.—Siam Rath
    • Former Transport Minister Chatchart posted on his FB Page reaffirming that he will not return to Pheu Thai Party and want to continue working for Bangkok communities as an independent.—Thai Rath
    • Media quotes a source close to the ousted and self-exiled former PM Thaksin that the former PM did not know anything about the allegation of Thaksin returning as Royally-endorsed PM. The close aide claims that information operation is the culprit, aiming to stir conflicts.—Thai Rath
  • In the retirement ceremony of General Apirat, the new army chief pledged to follow his predecessor, who has taken a hard line against anti-government groups and he emphasised the importance of protecting the monarchy. The newly appointed Army Chief said “I will protect and develop the army so it stands as a key institution of security that sustains the nation and throne”.–Reuters
  • Human rights lawyer and one of the key leaders of the student-led rally pledged to take the protestors to street from 14 October and will continue to hold a protracted gathering.

Business:

  • Tourism and Sports Ministry said the first group of foreign tourists to enter Thailand with Special Tourist Visas will comprise 150 Chinese from Guangzhou, who will fly to Phuket on October 8 via a chartered Air Asia flight.  On the same day, 7 Chinese businessmen will fly into Bangkok on a private jet.  On 25 October, another 126 Chinese tourists will fly to Bangkok from Guangdong on a chartered Thai Smile flight, followed by 120 tourists from Scandinavia and Schengen countries on Thai Airway flight on November 1.  These tourists will undergo a 14-day quarantine at approved facilities and will be required to download the tracing application. In the first phase of the reopening, the number of arrivals to Thailand will be limited 300 per week.    Source:  Thai PBS World  Bangkok Post

Cabinet’s Decisions, 29 September 2020

  • Approved the 30-billion Baht ‘Khon La Krueng’ co-payment scheme that will run from 23 October – 31 December.  The government will subsidise 50 percent, or a maximum of 150 Baht per person per day (equivalent to 3,000 Baht per person for 3 months) for individuals to buy food, drinks and consumer goods from street vendors and small shops.  Both the consumer and shops must register on the www.คนละครึ่ง.com on 16 October.  This scheme is expected to inject 60,000 billion Baht into the grassroot economy and boost GDP by 0.18 percent.
  • Approved of raising monthly allowances for 14 million state welfare cardholders to 1,500 Baht monthly (a 500-Baht increase) for 3 months from October – December 2020.  The allowance is for spending on the purchase of essential goods at the government-certified Tong Fa (Blue Flag) shops.  The total budget for the project is 21 billion Baht. 
  • Adjusted specifications for the co-payment employment scheme for companies which hire new graduates.  The government will extend help to companies that hire students who have registered in the social security system as well as those who work part-time to support themselves while studying. 
  • Approved a 1.51-trillion Baht spending plan for 44 state enterprises for FY 2021.
  • Approved of the proposals from Finance Ministry for FY 2021 (Oct 2020 – Sept 2021) to borrow 1.3 trillion Baht and manage existing debt worth 387.5 billion Baht to battle the pandemic.  Should the government implement the borrowing plan, it will raise public debt to GDP to 57.23 percent of GDP, not yet reaching the 60 percent ceiling. As of July 31, public debt totalled 7.6 trillion Baht, or 47.04 percent of GDP.  Sources:  Ministry of Finance Press Release  Prachachat Turakij Bangkok Post The Nation

Others

  • World Bank projects that the Thai economy will contract by at least 8.3 percent in 2020, and by 10.4 percent in the worst-case-scenario where recovery to pre-pandemic level would take at least 3 years.  Recovery could be hampered by the drought, flooding or second wave of outbreak.  Investor confidence is also rattled by doubts in policy continuity arising from changes in the government’s economic team and political protests.  Despite Thailand implementing the stimulus packages making up 8-13 percent of GDP, some stimulus measures such as the cash hand-out were not directed to the targeted segment.  World Bank calls for the government to find a method to distribute money to reach households more efficiently.  Source:  Bangkok Post The full report can be accessed here
  • The Board of Investment plans to propose a job retention scheme to the government to ease the high unemployment rate resulting from Covid-19.  BOI will also seek approval for new investment incentives for clinical research, especially medicines and vaccines, in a bid to make Thailand the hub of the medical industry in ASEAN.  The BOI is also restructuring to suit the government’s plan to promote new targeted industries and highly advanced technology.  Source:  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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