Advance Blog

January 6, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 6 January 2021

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesAccumulated cases for active case finding among migrant workersDischarged from hospital
+3659,3312,5754,418 (at 47.35%)
Local transmissionFrom abroad Provinces detected confirmed case(s)Death toll
250+99 (active case finding among migrant workers)16 (in SQ) 5666 (+1 on condition of high-blood pressure)
  • In the weekly cabinet meeting, the cabinet has approved the proposal the CCSA suggested to extend the imposition of Emergency Decree to be until 28 February in an attempt to coordinate the authorities. This is the 9th time the decree has been extended.—Post Today
  • In the daily English briefing from CCSA, the Deputy MFA spokesperson dismissed the rumour that there will be a ban for Thai and foreign nationals who travel from UK, citing the emergence of the new strain of virus in the commonwealth. The spokesperson affirmed that the state quarantine system in Thailand is effective to contain the COVID.
  • For people in the “maximum and strict control” areas of Samut Sakhon, Chonburi, Rayong, Chantaburi and Trat who wishes to travel across province, the CCSA spokesperson said that one must prepare necessary documents for the authority to scrutinise. And the CCSA spokesperson also asked for cooperation from the people to refrain or postpone unnecessary travel from today until 1 February in order to curb the spread of the virus.
  • In an exclusive interview, health authorities in Bangkok on Tuesday confirmed they omitted references to a convenience store chain owned by one of Thailand’s largest corporations when publishing coronavirus patients’ travel history “due to legal concerns.” Earlier internet users are questioning where has 7-eleven, the biggest convenient store chains in Thailand gone in thousands of new confirmed cases’ timeline.—Khao Sod English
  • The National News Bureau of Thailand has outlined the vaccine distribution plan as followed:
    • February 200 thousand doses for medical staffs in the maximum and strict control areas and for the high risk groups.
    • March 800 thousand doses: 200 thousands for the aforementioned groups (2nd injection),  600 thousands for the maximum control areas and other medical staffs
    • April a million doses: 600 thousands for the second group (2nd injection) and 400 thousands for other officials.—National News Bureau of Thailand

Politics

  • Thai Enquirer did a rare exclusive interview with the ousted and self-exiled former PM Thaksin Shinawatra on the premier’s legacy 20 years after coming into power.—Thai Enquirer
  • Political activist Ekachai Hongkangwan visited the European Union Delegation in Thailand to ask the regional supranational entity to confiscate assets of the perpetrator. –Voice TV
  • Deputy PM Wissanu said that should the Opposition needs to file a censure motion, it needs to do so by 28 February, which is the end date of the parliamentary session, as the delay might causes legal complication. The government legal pundit affirmed that for the Charter Rejig proposal and the national referendum bill, the government will hold a special parliamentary session to finish the discussion.—Krungthep Turakij
  • After being spotted not accessible in Thailand, the dissident Rap Against Dictatorship band who sang ‘Reform’ song said their newest song was geo-blocked in Thailand. The song was criticism against the PM on the use of violence and human rights violation. A media reached out to the Minister of Digital Economy who said he does not have the knowledge of the matter. The same goes for Police’s Technology Crime Suppression Division whose deputy spokesperson said the division is not responsible for the court order in the geo-block.—BBC Thai
  • So far, there have been 40 people, including two minors, who have been charged with the draconian lese majeste laws for insulting or criticising the King, Queen or the heir.–Prachatai

Economic:

Cabinet’s Decisions, 5 January 2021

  • Approved for Thai Commerce Ministry to sign an MOU to forge a mini-FTA with the Indian state of Telangana at the end of January, 2021.  Source:  Daily News
  • PM Prayut instructed DPM and Energy Minister Supattanapong; Finance Minister Akhom and the NESDC to work on launching additional measures to help the 40 million people who are affected by COVID-19 within 2 months.  The cabinet did not discuss reviving the 5,000 Baht cash-handout scheme, but instead will focus on introducing measures that reduce the cost of living.
  • Agreed to review and extend the deadlines of the existing stimulus packages.  The details will be finalised at the COVID-19 Centre Situation Administration meeting this month.
  • Approved of the 2022 budget, which totals 3.1 trillion Baht or a 5.66 percent decrease from the previous year’s budget.  Finance Ministry also estimated that revenue will decline by 10.35 percent to total 2.4 trillion Baht, resulting in a budget deficit of 700 billion Baht.  This is based on the forecast that the economy will grow by 3-4 percent and inflation by 0.7 – 1.17 percent.  Sources:  Krungthep  TurakijBangkok Post

Social Security Payment

  • Workers affected COVID-19 can apply for social security compensation on the grounds of force majeur starting from 19 December.  They are entitled to receive compensation worth 50 percent of their daily wage for a maximum of 90 days.  This applies to workers insured under Section 33 of the Social Security Fund, including migrant workers.  Employers and employees must submit documents through an e-Service system from 4 December onwards via the link https://www.sso.go.th/eservices/esv/index.jsp.  Compensation payments will be made within 5 working days.  Source:  Thailand’s Public Relations Department fb page, 5 January 2021
  • According to The Royal Gazette publication on 30 December, Social Security contributions of employers and employees under Section 33 is reduced from 5 percent to 3 percent of the monthly wage from January – March 2021.  Source: Royal Gazette Publication 30 Dec 2020
  • Ministry of Labour confirms that contribution from the self-insured under Section 39 of Social Security Fund (SSF) is reduced from 432 Baht to 278 Baht from Jan – March 2021.  Welfare payment for childcare under SSF is raised from 600 Baht to 800 Baht per month per person, while welfare payment for childbirth is increased from 13,000 to 15,000 Baht.  Interest rate for loans extended to labourers who agree to work from home is lowered, with the maximum loan of 7 million Baht.  Sources:  Ministry of Labour announcementPrachachat Turakij

Others

  • To curb the Baht appreciation and establish the FX ecosystem, the Bank of Thailand (BOT) is liberalising onshore regulations for capital flows.  It is allowing non-financial companies that have trade and direct investments in Thailand to join the Non-Resident Qualified Company (NRQC) scheme.  These companies will be given flexibility in managing Baht liquidity as they will not be subjected to the end-of-day outstanding limit of 200 million Baht imposed on non-resident bank accounts.  This is the central bank’s move to reduce the Baht’s offshore transactions, which increased from 21 percent to 61 percent in 10 years (years 2009-2019) and has contributed to the rising Baht.  Sources:  Bank of Thailand Press Release TNN Thailand Bangkok Post
  • China’s Sinovac Biotech has raised more than 500 million USD from investors to double the production of its COVID-19 vaccine to 600 million doses, CoronaVac.  Among the investors is Thailand’s Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group), which will put in investment worth 515 million USD through its subsidiary, the Hong Kong-listed Sino Biopharmaceutical under CP Pharmaceutical Group.  This will give Sino Biopharmaceutical a 15-percent stake in Sinovac Life Sciences, the unit in charge of CoronaVac production.  CP Group, the parent of CP Pharma, was one of the first foreign companies to invest in China.  Sources: Asia Nikkei  Prachachart Turakij
  • When Thailand assumes the chairmanship of APEC next year, it is hoped the country will be able to build a bridge between the United States and China, according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  This is because Thailand is known as a constructive player that can always find a common ground between developed and developing nations in any setting.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Inflation in December fell by a smaller rate of -0.27 percent YoY; the third consecutive month of improvement.  Consumer prices decreased less than expected in December because of higher prices of raw food, especially vegetables, fruits and meats, as demand increased.  Inflation in 2020 averages -0.85 percent.  For 2021, inflation is expected to remain in the negative territory in Q1 due to the soft lockdown, before rebounding to positive terrain from April onward, on the condition that the vaccines are administered.  Sources:  Krungthep Turakij   Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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