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Economy

Covid-19 again lowers Thai economic growth forecast to 2.3%

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: Exports are up, but not enough to cover losses from tourism.

Thailand’s economic growth forecast was lowered to 2.3% as the tourism outlook remains bleak as Covid-19’s third wave pummels the country. Back in October 2020, the Finance Ministry’s Fiscal Policy Office had originally predicted a 4.5% growth for Thailand’s GDP, when Covid-19 seemed to be waning in the country. By January, as the second wave hit, projections were reeled in to 2.8%, and this month it was dropped again another half per cent.

The forecast assumes the government will enact economic stimulus packages worth at least 100 billion baht between now and the fiscal year close on September 30. The FPO expects a fourth-quarter economic recovery to boost the year’s average growth with yearly figures ranging from 1.8% to 2.8%.

Thailand had done relatively well during the pandemic, but the third wave is infecting much higher numbers and, with the vaccine rollout crawling, Covid-19 domestically is negating the positive effects of the world’s economic recovery. A recent evaluation estimated the Thai economy could lose up to 100 million baht per month. Last year Thai exports fell 6.6% but this year the thriving export sector is projected to grow 11%.

But tourism makes up at least 12% of Thailand’s gross domestic product, reportedly 2 trillion baht brought in during 2019, and the Covid-19 outbreak and slow vaccinations mean more delays in reopening to travellers on a large scale. Last year was buoyed as China is Thailand’s top tourism market and the first place to lockdown in the early stages of Covid-19. Last year saw only 6.7 million travellers arriving, which brought an 83% drop in tourism revenue for 2020.

After the ambitious plan to reopen Phuket and tourism sandbox locations July 1 and fully reopen Thailand in October, Covid-19 outbreaks are dashing hopes and the 2021 travel projections were lowered to just 2 million travellers, a devastating blow to the economy.

SOURE: ASEAN Economist

 

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Charlie

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 5:57 am

    HAHAHAHA, hilarious. 2.3% growth? In 10 years maybe. Thailand is screwed and everyone except the Thai government knows it.

  2. Avatar

    Charlie

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 5:58 am

    And btw, TRY to be journalists. The Thai tourism industry is at least 20%. You idiots have it down as 12%. Good God, you are fools.

  3. Avatar

    ynwaps

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 7:57 am

    I’ll enjoy the cheap prices in this great reset. More Chinese tourists will come as they’re the ones making money. Western tourists probably stay the same but going to enjoy a worthless Thai Baht.

  4. Avatar

    Mr cynic

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 9:16 am

    Would have thought minus 2.3 percent would have been a more reasonable figure to try to get away with.more realistic figure would probably be about minus 30 percent though really.with nearly all travel and tourism essentially zero and the world freight rates for shipping export products up by about 3-400 percent how can it possibly be anything else.

  5. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 11:49 am

    An indication of Thailand wealth and prospects might be that Thailand is selling a bigger percentage of their gold reserves lately than in the last 10 years.
    However gold prices are up.
    Assuming that they sell the gold for USD, they must hope that the USD does not decrease in value.
    The last gold mine in Thailand was closed by government order in 2016. The reason was that it interfered with the environment. The Australian owners said they had done everything required of them.
    The Australian company who ran the mine stated: They are once bitten and twice shy, and they will not return without a cast iron guarantee of tenure.

  6. Avatar

    Nigel

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 12:53 pm

    I assume the 2.3% growth is based on a fall of 6-7% loss last year. So in real terms that’s an economy that’s around 4% down on pre-pandemic levels. It’s also highly likely that this number will continue to reduce, although exports may increase to offset some of the loss in tourism?

    As @Charlie says, overall tourism is around 20% of GDP (11-12% from foreign tourism). As all tourism has essentially stopped, including local tourism, then the fall must be nearer to -15% loss of GDP. It gets complex however as local tourism expenditure can find its way in to the economy in other ways. However, I think it’s fair to say two things:

  7. Avatar

    Nigel

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 12:55 pm

    Why does the carriage return key sometime send the comment ? As I was saying. Two things. First, the real economy fell by more that 6-7% last year. Second, it won’t rise by 2.4% this year. Defies any logic, even Thai style logic!

  8. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 4:21 pm

    “The Australian company who ran the mine stated: They are once bitten and twice shy, and they will not return without a cast iron guarantee of tenure”

    Chatree / Kingsgate?

    Why would they “return” or anyone want them to return?

    All open pit gold mines in Thailand (Kingsgate’s and the mine near me, which was why I took an interest) were closed in 2016 as the independent studies all showed they were damaging local people’s health as well as causing environmental damage.

    Kingsgate got a payout from their insurers as a result, so they’ve got no claim or rights here. Why do you imagine anyone wants them back, @toby andrews?

    It’s like someone who’s been chucked out of the country and isn’t wanted saying they won’t come back unless they’re guaranteed to be allowed to stay.

  9. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 4:43 pm

    “An indication of Thailand wealth and prospects might be that Thailand is selling a bigger percentage of their gold reserves lately than in the last 10 years.”

    Are you sure of that, @toby andrews?

    A quick check shows that Thailand’s gold reserves are still 153.96 tonnes, which is what they’ve been since a rise in 2012.

    None have been sold in the last ten years at all (the reserves actually went up slightly in 2017), and the only fluctuations in value have been because of changes in the $ exchange rate and gold price, not because any have been sold.

    Oops …

  10. Avatar

    murika

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 7:39 pm

    everything this government say are lies, you can make number say anything, 2.3% of what ? 2.3% of economic grow means nothing, grow from what ? at least they could use GDP as an indicator, but that number is made up as well, as everything else, 154 tons of gold, is anyone believe this too ? can anyone outside of the government can check it it’s true, think of thailand as a monarchy ruled by 70 years old military and go back on earth as to believe what they say…. and if you disagree with them you go to jail for spreading fake news, what a joke !

  11. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 8:11 pm

    @Simon Small – Yes I am sure of that.
    I am not going to prove it. I can, but you prove it is wrong with sources.
    It is easy to dispute posts, but let us have evidence . . .

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Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Thailand. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai government says Covid treatment is free, but patients report hefty bills

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Stock photo via Wikimedia Commons

Despite the Thai government repeatedly saying all Covid-19 patients will receive free treatment, hefty bills are being posted on social media. Tares Krassanairawiwong, director-general of the Health Service Support Department, insisted again that the treatment for Covid is free at any state or private hospital, but listed maximum amounts on coverage for individuals. The National Health Security Office says it will pay 7,200 baht in medicines for each patient, 1,500 baht per night in a hospital, field hospital or hospitel, and 3,800 baht for other items related to the virus treatment.

But the NHSO secretary-general cited bills as being much higher on average per person, insisting that even those bills will and have been paid.

“Patients don’t have to pay even when being treated in a private hospital because the NHSO will reimburse the cost. On average, we pay private hospitals about Bt100,000 per [Covid] patient with moderate symptoms, and have paid 800,000 baht to 1 million baht for severe cases.”

1 patient reported being hit with a bill of 937,979 baht for 16 days in a private hospital, which included 3 days in intensive care. Another reported a bill of 989,670 baht for 17 days in hospital, 13 of which were spent in ICU. Another person, Danai Rung, says he called the NHSO hotline, after being given a large bill, and said the hotline representative told him his hospital wasn’t covered under the NHSO.

“The claim that Covid-19 treatment is free at all hospitals is definitely untrue,” he said on Public Health Ministry’s Facebook page for Covid-19 updates. “I have had to pay 340,000 baht of the 480,000 baht bill. The insurance only covered about 140,000 baht.”

Even private hospitals are claiming that the difference in specialists’ fees and medical supplies make the cost of treatment higher compared to those getting treatment at public hospitals. The difference, unlike what the NHSO has stated, will be paid by the patient.

Thonburi Healthcare Group’s chairman, Boon Vanasin, said recently that when a patient is diagnosed with Covid-19 in a private hospital, they may either be admitted or transferred to another designated medical facility. In this case, the treatment will be free.

“But if the patient refuses the process prescribed by the government and chooses to be treated in their own hospital, then they will have to pay the difference between the medical cover provided by the government and fees charged by private hospitals.”

Patients are advised to call the NHSO 1330 hotline if they are asked to pay for Covid-19 care. So far, the Public Health Ministry says it has resolved 44 complaints involving 75 patients. All these patients have been refunded the money taken from them by private hospitals, who said the money was collected by mistake or taken as a guarantee.

The NHSO says operators of medical facilities who illegally charge for Covid care can face up to 2 years in jail or a maximum fine of 40,000 baht.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

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Economy

Thailand Consumer Confidence Index hits record low

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Thailand's Consumer Confidence index slips again to below the pre-pandemic record. (via CNN)

The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce has reported that the Consumer Confidence Index has hit another new record low of 46.0 in April. The Covid-19 global pandemic has had a devastating effect on the economy and consumer confidence has fallen frequently to the lowest points that it has seen since 1998.

The president of the UTTC believes that consumers generally don’t feel like there has been much of a recovery for the economy since the global pandemic began and without a stimulating event to motivate economic growth, the index is expected to continue to fall further. The university estimated that if the third wave of Covid-19 continues past the end of May the economy can expect to lose 400 to 600 billion baht.

The UTTC president stressed that the government should hasten to step up relief measures and make sure they continue relief and economic stimulus throughout the pandemic to avoid economic catastrophe. He predicted that the economy and the Consumer Confidence Index will continue on a downward slope without any hope of improvement until the vaccine rollout gets well underway towards herd immunity, and new Covid-19 infections are decreased dramatically.

Today saw another 2,101 new Covid-19 infections and 17 deaths in Thailand. Vaccination efforts are continually being stepped up, but still remain woefully slow.

The Consumer Confidence Index first started falling last year, with a drop below the previous record low in 1998 in April of 2020, when it fell to 47.2. A few months later, by July of last year, it had recovered significantly, climbing back over 50. But by March of this year, the index had fallen again to 48.5. With April’s tumble of 2.5 points, the Consumer Confidence Index pushes once again to a new record low.

SOURCE: Thai Business News

 

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Economy

Stimulus package gives more back the more you spend

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: A new stimulus package aims to get the middle class spending. (via Flickr - Marco Verch)

A new stimulus package targeting middle and high-income people aims at increasing spending by offering more e-voucher the more you spend. Ying Chai Ying Dai, which translates to “the more you spend the more you get”, will reward those who spend between 46,000 and 70,000 baht with a 7,000 baht e-voucher. This part of the government’s 225 billion baht stimulus package hopes to encourage 4 million qualifying middle- to upper-class people to spend more money by refunding 10-15% back, according to the Finance Ministry’s Fiscal Policy Office.

People wishing to participate must register and make their purchases through a government e-wallet system. The system works by refunding 10 to 15% of purchases with a maximum of 7,000 baht. So at 15%, a person who spent 46,000 baht would receive back the full 7,000. On the 10% scheme, 70,000 baht in spending would be necessary to reach 7,000 cashback. No details were available on what determines the percentage level.

An additional 2,000 baht will be available for people participating in the “Section 33 Rao Rak Kan” and “Rao Chana” scheme. The plans are expected to push 85.5 billion Baht back into the economy as recipients must spend the cash by the end of June.

The 50/50 stimulus program that has been popular with the government covering half of what people spend for half for food, drink, and other items up to 150 baht per person per day will also be expanded. That plan began on October 23, and ended at the end of 2020, covering 10 million people with each receiving 3000 baht. The second phase of the popular program added 5 million more people and raised the limit to 3,500 baht per person.

A third phase of the “Khon La Khrueng” stimulus plan is expected to begin in July with participants getting a maximum of 3,500 baht each to spend, and opening the program to 16 million new people. This massive expansion though will stipulate that anyone participating in this program cannot also participate in the Ying Chai Ying Dai scheme.

All of these cash and voucher benefits aimed at supporting vulnerable groups, along with cash handouts for people who have state welfare cards, are part of 245 billion baht the government is spending in an attempt to keep the economy from collapsing. This falls under an emergency loan decree allocating the government 1 trillion baht total to cope with Covid-19.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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