Advance Blog

May 6, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 6 May 2021

News

Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesPatients under severe conditions and those using ventilatorsDischarged from hospitalFrom 1 April, totally confirmed cases (third wave)1st dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)
1,91176,8111,073/ 35646,795 (at 60.92%)47,9481,167,719 (+17,115) (= 1.764 %  of the population)
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding2nd dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)
1,902 [1,749 (get tested in hospital) + 153 (active case finding)]9 (in SQ)29,680 [8,743 in field hospital]16,048 (+739)336 (+18)22,947434,114  (+11,603) (=0.655 % of the population)
  • CCSA has confirmed that Thai health authority detected the so-called ‘Brazilian strains’ in the ASQ. CCSA affirms that the Thai ASQ scheme can contain the strains within its quarantine system.—Reuters
  • The CCSA spokesperson said that from 5 April to 5 May, the health authority had done 42,251 case findings and found the confirmed cases at 3.9% or “in every 100 people in Bangkok, there are four people with COVID”.
  • Today, one million more doses of Chinese Sinovac Covid vaccine has reached Thailand. So far, Thailand has imported 3.5 million doses. It is reported that the Kingdom expects 500,000 more doses on 14 May and 2 millions more doses by the end of May.—Prachachat Turakij
  • A media did a report on the mystery of whether there have been any imports of Pfizer vaccine into Thailand. The report cited diplomats from Southeast Asia and Central Asia hinting that should there is an embassy going to vaccinate its staff, it could be done without going through Thai authority. The report also put a social media widely shared American CDC’s vaccination record card which showed that the US Embassy in Bangkok had received the vaccines.—Krungthep Turakij
    • Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Bangkok informed the press that they are collecting information to response to the inquiry.—ThaiPBS

Politics

  • The Constitutional Court unanimously made the verdict that legal jurisdiction in Australia does not apply in Thai sovereignty, making the Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat remains qualified for representative and ministerial positions.—all media outlet
    • Some online users raised the precedented Council of State legal advice back  in 1982 which stated that any Thai person who was sentenced with jail term is not eligible to apply for MP.—Matichon
  • The main figures of the student-led protestor are wishing to get their bail request approved, but:
    • The court will only decide the request of Panusaya ‘Rung’ as the court said Parit ‘Penguin’ and Chaiamorn ‘Ammy’ needed to finished their 14 days quarantine before presenting in court. The two were detained in the same room with the Covid-positive activist—Prachachat Turakij
    • Thai Correction Department affirmed that Thai activist lawyer, Arnon Nampa, jailed without bail since February on charges of insulting monarchy, has contracted the coronavirus in custody.—Reuters
  • Piyarat ‘Toto’, the head of WeVo (protest guards) got temporary release from a local court. He has to be on an electronic monitoring (EM) bracelet, barred from overseas travel. Piyarat was detained in prison for 31 days.—Krungthep Turakij
  • The ghost of multilateral free trade arrangement has returned to Thailand as there was a reportedly ‘leaked’ document showing that the cabinet approved the resolution to authorise the PM to enter CPTPP. #NoCPTPP got media attention both online and on-air.—Prachachat Turakij
  • The Digital Economy Minister informed the press that the cabinet has approved to postpone the enforcement of Personal Data Protection Act for one year due to the pandemic.—Krungthep Turakij
  • The Royal Gazette has published that the Parliamentary Session will be opened on 22 May.—The Royal Gazette

Economic:

CPTPP 

  • Government spokesperson Ratchada confirmed that the cabinet meeting on 5 May did not approve of Thailand joining the negotiation for CPTPP accession.  She said the cabinet only approved of a 50-day extension for the International Economic Policy Committee to consult with other relevant agencies to provide recommendations on this matter.  The remark was intended to debunk a comment made on FTA Watch’s facebook page that claimed the cabinet had consented PM Prayut to sign the letter of intent for Thailand to join the negotiation for CPTPP accession at its 5 May meeting, which went on to unleash a torrent of criticisms on social media.  Source:  Prachachat TurakijDaily News The Nation 

Cabinet’s Decisions, 5 May 2021 

  • The cabinet has agreed in principle to allocate 245 billion Baht of the 1-trillion Baht loan to launch a suite of stimulus packages that will inject 473 billion Baht into the economy to combat the third COVID-19 outbreak.  The packages will be approved by the cabinet in the coming weeks, including: 

Urgent, short-term projects worth 85.5 billion Baht, comprising: 

1.       Rao Chana cash handout program will be extended for 2 weeks.  It will continue to give 1,000 Baht weekly to some 32.9 million low-income earners.  Total budget:  67 billion Baht 

2.      Mor 33 Rao Rak Kan Phase 1 will be extended for 2 weeks.  It provides unemployment compensation of 1,000 Baht weekly to 9.27 million people who are insured under social security section 33.  Total budget: 18.5 billion Baht 

Long-term projects running from July – Dec 2021 with budget totalling 140 billion Baht, comprising: 

3.      Phase 3 of the subsidy program for low-income state welfare cardholder will see the government providing 1,200 Baht for 6 months to 13.6 million.  Total budget: 16.4 billion Baht 

4.      The subsidy program for low-income state welfare cardholder will also be extended to 2.5 million people with special needs at 1,200 Baht for 6 months.  Total budget: 3 billion Baht 

5.      Kon La Kreung Phase 3 subsidy program targets 31 million middle and high-income earners.  The government will provide a subsidy of 150 Baht per person per day for 6 months (3,000 Baht in total) to spend at registered shops and restaurants.  Total budget:  93 billion Baht 

6.      Ying Chai Ying Dai program – the government will provide e-vouchers valued at 5,000 Baht per person per day for spending at shops/operators that are registered for VAT.  The spending must take place from August to Dec 2021, targeting 31 million people. 

Others key measures: 

  • Cuts in electricity and water charges for in May and June.  Total budget: 10 billion Baht. 
  • Approval of 20 billion Baht low-interest rate loans from state-owned banks 
  • State-owned banks to extend grace period for principal re-payment until year-end 
  • Approval of 12.6 billion baht for the Health Ministry to handle the third wave of infections 
  • Extension of tax incentives for companies hiring former prisoners for a year until end-2021 

Sources:  Prachachart Turakij  Krungthep Turakij Bangkok Post The Nation 

Others 

  • The Bank of Thailand (BOT) kept the policy interest rate unchanged at a record low of 0.50 percent for an 8th consecutive meeting.  BOT reiterated that the limited policy room should be preserved to be used at the most effective time.  BOT identified the vaccine as the main economic driver that will help tourism and SMEs recover quickly.  Sources:  Bangkok Post  Bank of Thailand Press Release 
  • While the BOT will officially revise its 2021 GDP figure in June, it has slashed forecast to a growth of 1-2 percent, down from its previous estimate of 3 percent.  In the base scenario, GDP is forecasted to grow by 2 percent if 100 million vaccine doses are administered this year, herd immunity is achieved in Q1 of 2022 and tourist arrival is 1.2 million.  In the worse-than-base-scenario, GDP will expand by 1.5 percent with 64.6 million vaccine doses distributed, herd immunity attained in Q3 of 2022 and tourist arrival totals 1 million.  In the worst-case-scenario, GDP will grow by 1 percent if vaccine rollout is less than 64.6 million doses and herd immunity materialises in Q4 of 2022, for which the number of unemployed will tally 2.9 million.  The forecasts did not take into account the government’s stimulus packages.    Source:  Krungthep Turakij Bangkok Post 
  • In Q1 of 2021, the Board of Investment (BOI) received investment applications for 401 projects worth 123.4 billion Baht.  Compared to 2020, the number of investment application rose by +14 percent and value by +80 percent.  Investment was propelled by applications filed for the medical sector, which grew YoY by over+ 100 times (valued at 18.4 billion) due to COVID-19, and electrics & electronics (E&E) sector that surged by +64 percent (17.4 billion Baht) as a result of work from home trends and factory relocation.  As for FDI, its investment value increased by +143 percent (valued at 61.98 billion) Baht through 191 projects.  The major FDI applicant was South Korea that invested ina large-scale joint venture in the medical sector. The EEC attracted 117 projects applications with investment value that increased by 39 percent YoY to total 64.4 billion baht.  Source:  Thansettakij  Bangkok Post 
  • Inflation in April 2021 surged to the highest level in 8 months, by 3.41 percent YoY, according to the Ministry of Commerce.  This is attributable to the rise in global oil price and higher demands for pork, chicken and fresh vegetables that surged because of the long holidays in April.  Another factor is the expiration of the government’s subsidy programs for electricity and water bills.  For 2021, inflation is expected to range from 1.2 – 1.7 percent if GDP picks up to a 3.5-4.5 growth.  Sources:  MCOT Bangkok Post 
  • The University of Thai Chamber of Commerce reported that modern trade sentiment index was 46.3 points in Q1 of 2021, the lowest level to ever be recorded since the launch of the index in Q3 of 2018.  The modern trade sentiment is poised to be remain subdued as a result of weakened purchasing power amid the prolonged Covid-19 crisis.  Source:  Bangkok Post 
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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