Advance Blog

January 5, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 5 January 2021

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesAccumulated cases for active case finding among migrant workersDischarged from hospital
+5278,9662,0374,352 (at 51.57%)
Local transmissionFrom abroad Provinces detected confirmed case(s)Death toll
82+439 (active case finding among migrant workers)6 (in SQ) 56 (+Singburi & Nan)65
  • The CCSA spokesperson said in the daily press briefing outlining the CCSA approved guidelines:
    • Closure of premises risky to COVID infection
    • Takeaway only hours from 09.00pm-06.00am
    • Health screening for inter-provincial or between the maximum control area to control areas.
    • Avoid inter-provincial travels, exception for transport of goods
    • Alert provinces to manoeuvre resources for the set-up of field hospitals, should the situation escalates.
  • The CCSA spokesperson also said that the CCSA is now designated five provinces (Samut Sakhon, Rayong, Chonburi, Chantaburi and Trat) as the ‘maximum and strict control area’ as per suggested by the Deputy Public Health Minister.
    • The PM affirmed that there will be no full lockdown in five provinces with high numbers of infection as suggested by the deputy Public Health Minister last night. The Public Relations Department FB said that the PM did not say he approved the lockdown of Samut Sakhon, Chonburi, Rayong, Chantaburi and Trat, rather it is the order for each maximum control area governor to step up the measures and strictness.—Thai Rath
  • The CCSA has approved the extension of the emergency decree for 45 days to be from 16-28 Feb and the proposal will need to be stamped by the cabinet resolution.
  • The CCSA spokesperson said that in Samut Sakhon cluster, there have been more than 2,500 confirmed cases in 45 provinces; in Rayong cluster, there have been 426 confirmed cases. More clusters now are from new year’s nightclub celebrations and from more traditional gambling sites like the cockfighting rings in the Central provinces.
  • The PM said after the weekly cabinet meeting that the government has secured 35 million doses of COVID vaccine from AstraZeneca. The PM said the government is open for private sourcing of the vaccine, but the vaccine needs to pass the Thai Food and Drug. As for the timeline of the first lot of the vaccine arrival from Chinese Sinovac, by late March, 800 thousands doses of vaccine will be provided for 400 thousands people. By April, 1 million doses will be secured for 500 thousands people. By May, there will be 26 million doses being provided for 13 million people. The PM said that the government will secure vaccines for 60 million people.
    • The PM has ordered the authority to step up measures to crack down gambling dens and strictly control the border to prevent people from crossing to gamble in neighbouring countries.
    • The PM has ordered the economic sections to  introduce fresh stimulus package to facilitate people economically during the lockdown.
    • The PM said that King’s Rama IX established Siam Bioscience Co., Ltd. Has received King Rama X
  • In regards to the vaccine access in Thailand, yesterday the PM said that he has ordered two million doses from Chinese Sinovac to be provided for medical staffs. The lot is expected to arrive by March.–Reuters
    • Please see the visualised timeline of the estimated time of arrival of vaccine to Thailand prepared by Bangkok Post attached.
  • After the PM as the director of CCSA overruled the BMA announcement to impose takeaway only hours to be from 09.00pm-06.00am, the Bangkok governor abided by the CCSA resolution. All Bangkok health-related restrictions are summed up in the infographic attached.

Politics

  • The Parliament has decided to defer the Parliament meetings for two weeks in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19. The committee meeting can still proceed but it is recommended not to invite outsider to the Parliament to join the meetings.–Prachachat
    • Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu said that the defer will not affect the timeline of the legal abortion act, but assured the public that the postponement will not affect timeline of the constitutional amendment.—Siam Rath

Economic:

Social Security Fund

  • The Labour Ministry will reduce the Social Security Fund contributions of employers and employees from January to March 2021 to help businesses survive the pandemic.  Some 100,000 employees who lost their jobs or are suspended from work on the grounds of ‘force majeur’ –  namely the closure of more than 6,000 businesses in 28 red-zone provinces in response to the pandemic – are entitled to receive 50 percent compensation of their daily wage from the Social Security Fund.  This is mandated by a new regulation published on 19 December 2020.  Sources:  Prachachat Turakij Bangkok Post

Budget

  • Ministry of Finance has set aside 610 billion Baht to combat the new round of COVID-19 outbreak from 2 sources, namely 1) the 1 trillion Baht loan, of which there is 471 billion Baht of remaining budget and 2) the 140 billion Baht appropriated from the central budget.  If the 610 billion Baht budget proves insufficient to curb the infection, more could be appropriated from the civil servant budget. 
  • CIMB Bank noted that the 610 billion Baht budget is sufficient only to keep the economy and businesses stable until the administration of vaccines and the return of international tourists.  Kasikorn Research Centre cautioned the government to spend wisely and reserve enough for the next round of outbreak.   
  • NESDC reported that of the 1 trillion Baht loan, there is 471 billion Baht of remaining budget since the cabinet had approved for 525 billion Baht to be disbursed through 3 projects:

1.       Public health projects (total budget: 45 billion Baht) – 25 billion Baht is approved for disbursal, with the remaining budget of 424 billion Baht

2.       Remedial measures for farmers and the general population (total budget: 555 billion baht) – 386 billion Baht is approved for disbursal, with the remaining budget of 168 billion Baht

3.       Economic rehabilitation projects (total budget: 440 billion Baht) – 139 billion Baht approved for disbursal, with the remaining budget of 260 billion Baht.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij

Others

  • The government has is averting hard lockdown on provincial levels because the economic cost is too high.  The Thai Restaurants Association projected that if restaurant dining was banned again, the economic damage across the entire supply chain would rise to over 100 billion Baht.  Already, restaurants foresee a 45 percent decline in their revenues as a result of the government’s ban on dine-in service from 9 PM – 7 AM. The Thai Chamber of Commerce said that if the new COVID-19 outbreak is not controlled within a month, the economy will lose between 1.5 billion and 2 billion Baht per day.  As such, the government has opted to call for the public’s cooperation in practising self-isolation and staying at home to avoid further outbreaks, which would necessitate a full lockdown.  Sources:  Thai PBS World  Bangkok Post
  • Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) plans to establish a joint committee with the Tourism Authority of Thailand to roll out more inclusive stimulus packages to encompass a wider array of stakeholders from tour guides and transport operators to travel agents.  TCT called for the government to alleviate their wage burden to preserve employment.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Bank of Thailand and the Thai Bankers Association are set to discuss business continuity and debt restructuring plans to assist borrowers in the midst of COVID-19 outbreak.  Most banks are now helping borrowers by providing financial solutions on a case-by-case basis, against the backdrop of surging household debt of 86.6 percent of GDP (as of Q3 of 2020); the highest in 18 years and the average households’ debt service ratio of 27 percent.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The use of FTA privileges and the Generalized System of Preferences by Thai exporters fell by 14.76 percent YoY to UDS 45.60 billion in the first 9 months of 2020, in line with Thailand’s overall lower export.  The privileges were used mostly in the export of fresh Durians, synthetic rubber products mixed with natural rubber, fruits, trucks and air conditioners.   The top 5 markets that saw the highest use of privileges are China (USD14.44 billion), ASEAN (USD13.63 billion), Japan (USD4.85 billion), Australia (USD4.76 billion) and India (USD2.37 billion).  Source:  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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