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Economy

Thai banks report strong mortgage growth despite April’s new loan regulations

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Ever since the Thai government enforced the higher loan-to-value ratios on property lenders last April, borrowers and developers have been generally unhappy with the result – a sluggish new home-buyer market. But some commercial lenders, particularly some of the larger ones, have still reported strong lending growth for the first nine months of 2019.

Kasikorn Bank says its housing loans surged nearly 11% for the first nine months this year, well above the average industry growth in 2019 of 4%. That 11% growth also surpassed KBank’s target for the full year of 7%.

KBank targeted 64 billion baht in new housing loans for 2019 – 52 billion baht already lent for the first nine months. The bank foreshadows no additional marketing expenditure for 2019 because of the excellent result.

“The bank plans to expand its salaried-employee customer base to 60% of our new home loan applicants from 50% now, in line with risk management strategy,” according to KBank’s executive VP, as reported in the Bangkok Post.

It’s also hoped that the government’s new property stimulus scheme will support KBank’s mortgage growth for the rest of the year if the measures are implemented.

Last week the government approved a new Thai property stimulus package consisting of a property transfer fee cut to 0.01% from 2% and mortgage fee reduction to 0.01% from 1%. But the fee reductions apply to homes priced no more than 3 million baht.

Whilst Kiatnakin Bank enjoyed 13.2% growth in its housing loans for the first nine months this year, Bank of Ayudhya (Krungsri) expects only single-digit growth in mortgages over the same period, slowing from double-digit growth in the past few years.

A Bank of Ayudhya spokesperson says the slower growth forecast could be attributed to the sluggish economy and the central bank’s new Loan-to-Value regulations implemented last April.

Meanwhile the co-president of Siam Commercial Bank say they expect mortgage lending for the rest of 2019 to improve from Q3 thanks to seasonal factors.

SCB says that the property stimulus measures are expected to boost demand for homes priced 3 million baht or less, which comprises the biggest slice of the mortgage market, but potential homebuyers may postpone their housing loan applications until next year to take advantage of the fee cuts.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

Thai banks report strong mortgage growth despite April's new loan regulations | News by Thaiger

GRAPHIC: Bangkok Post

 

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Economy

Bangkok’s Union Mall will close until May 27, casualty of Covid-19

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Union Mall in Bangkok will be closing until at least May 27 due to Covid-19. (via Wikimedia)

In another sign of Thailand’s Covid-19 battered economy, the Union Mall in Bangkok has announced that it will close temporarily, purportedly for Covid-19 safety but likely because of a lack of customers during the pandemic. The mall, in Ladprao opposite the Central Ladprao shopping mall, took to Facebook this week to announce that they were closing.

Mall management made an exception for food vendors, announcing that restaurants and food service businesses inside could continue to operate. But in-person dining will not be allowed and the businesses could cook food only for pick-up takeaway or delivery service.

The mall made a statement announcing the mall will be closed from now until at least May 27, but the closure may be extended further in future announcements. They stated that the decision was made to close the mall to help prevent any outbreaks or spread of Covid-19. The move would give businesses renting stores inside the mall a rest from worrying about running a business during the pandemic and risking infection, and also give them a break on rental expenses for a bit.

But altruism aside, the Union Mall will also close because it just doesn’t have the patronage to sustain operation as the pandemic rages on. Before Covid-19, the mall was a popular hangout spot for young hip mallrats shopping for the latest fashions. But for the last year, shops and promenades have been mostly empty, a ghost town beaten down by the pandemic.

In the announcement to close, the mall management shared a letter from a frustrated shop-owner, lamenting the plight of businesses renting stores during an unrelenting pandemic. He complained that the economy began to look better a few times, but was repeatedly dashed by another Covid-19 wave. An end is still not in sight in an uncertain pandemic, and the business owner pointed out that people can start getting jabs, but there’s no vaccine to immunise small businesses that don’t have the savings to keep fighting as the customerless months drag on.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

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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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