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7-Eleven, Family Mart cash in on the pandemic

Caitlin Ashworth

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7-Eleven, Family Mart cash in on the pandemic | The Thaiger
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While some people are losing their jobs as a result of the pandemic, Thailand’s billionaires are getting richer. The owners of 7-Eleven and Family Mart are just two of them. The convenience store franchises are classified as essential services and have stayed busy, while some of the smaller mom and pop shops were forced to close due to the coronavirus outbreak. It’s reported that around 7 million people in Thailand could be unemployed by June.

To fix the economy’s problems, PM Prayut Chan-ocha sought help from Thailand’s elite. Last month, he said he would write a letter to 20 of Thailand’s richest people asking them for ideas on how to revive the nation’s economy. (He could have more easily picked up the phone and called them.)

The government has faced criticism for not doing more for the ordinary citizens, with millions clearly in need as they apply for cash handouts and wait in food queues in the steamy Thai midday sun.

The wealthiest person in Thailand, Dhanin Chearavanont, chairman of the CP All Group which owns 7- Eleven, responded with boasts about the 700 million baht the company has invested in efforts to control the coronavirus outbreak. He added that the company has plans to develop virus test kits and they have created more jobs.

Some of the big “five family” firms, CP All Group, ThaiBev, Central Group, King Power Group and Boonrawd (makers of Singha, Leo, U, Asahi), were supporters of the former-coup maker, now elected PM Prayut Chan-ocha’s 2019 election campaign. Some of the current “favours” and “concessions” for these companies is seen as alleged “payback” for their past support.

But while Chearavanont says 7-11 has created more jobs, the final numbers of extra jobs won’t make much of a dent on the millions unemployed. As poverty has risen over the past five years, profits and holdings for the major Thai conglomerates have increased.

Critics have argued the Prayut government should do more as Thailand’s Covid-19 relief measures already appear to be missing the mark. As many as 27 million Thais applied for the “Nobody Left Behind” cash handouts, a program policy-makers initially designed for only four million or so of the kingdom’s lowest earners. Over the past month there’s been constant criticism of the government’s ability to administer and pay out the meagre handouts.

SOURCE: Asia Times

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

Phuket

Thailand’s Social Security Office forced to explain investment in Sri Panwa Phuket Resort trust fund

Maya Taylor

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Thailand’s Social Security Office forced to explain investment in Sri Panwa Phuket Resort trust fund | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sri Panwa Phuket Resort - Sri Panwa Phuket

The Social Security Office, a department under the direction of Thailand’s Ministry of Labour, is being asked to explain its investment in the trust fund of Phuket’s Sri Panwa Phuket Resort. The demand comes as members of the opposition and political activists call for an investigation into the property’s land rights. The owner of Sri Panwa Phuket, Vorasit Issara, has been condemned online recently, with his property attracting multiple negative reviews, after he criticised anti-government protest leader, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul.

Thai PBS World reports that the Civil Society for State Welfare is calling on the SSO to clarify its investment in the Sri Panwa Hospitality Real Estate Investment Trust, thought to be worth around 500 million baht. Nimit Thian-udom says that, while the SSO’s investment does not break any laws, the board must explain the reasons behind the investment decision and clarify the return on that investment. In addition, he says the SSO should attach more importance to good governance when choosing where to invest.

The call for clarity is echoed by opposition MP Chirayu Huangsap, from the Pheu Thai Party, who calls on the Labour Minister to explain the investment. He adds that any discrepancies will be reported to both the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission.

The land rights of the luxury Sri Panwa Phuket resort, which sits on prime land atop Phuket’s Cape Panwa, overlooking the south-eastern tip of the island, are also being called into question. Veera Somkwamkid, from the People’s Network Against Corruption, says he is looking into the property’s land rights and will pass his findings to the Department of Special Investigations.

For his part, the Labour Minister, Somsak Thepsuthin, says he doesn’t know if the property has been legally built, saying it’s up to the DSI to investigate and that a complaint does not need to be filed in order for them to do so.

Meanwhile, review site Tripadvisor has had to suspend reviews for the Sri Panwa resort, as anti-government netizens exact their revenge on the proprietor by posting negative feedback on the property.

“Due to a recent event that has attracted media attention and has caused an influx of review submissions that do not describe a first-hand experience, we have temporarily suspended publishing new reviews for this listing.”

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Business

Struggling airlines to get reprieve through small loans, extension to fuel tax cut

Maya Taylor

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Struggling airlines to get reprieve through small loans, extension to fuel tax cut | The Thaiger
PHOTO: TAT News

Airlines in Thailand are being offered a financial lifeline, as the Government Savings Bank announces soft loans for carriers left struggling as a result of the current Covid-19 ‘disruption’. Nation Thailand reports that the GSB is offering the loans over a 60 month period, with an annual interest rate of 2%. Chairman Patchara Anuntasilpa says the proposal will shortly be put to Cabinet for approval.

Airlines have been left financially devastated by the fallout from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, with countries closing their borders, passenger numbers plummeting, and carriers forced to slash the number of flights on offer. The services available, including the food services, were also curtailed early on as a preventative measure but that restriction has since been lifted. The effect is being keenly felt by all the airlines in Thailand, with the Kingdom’s borders closed to nearly all international traffic since March.

In a further effort to ease the financial crisis faced by Thai airlines, the Excise Department says it will extend the fuel tax cut for low-cost carriers by another 6 months from the end of this month. Patchara, who also serves as director-general of the Excise Department, says the tax may end up being abolished completely. In normal times, taxation on aviation fuel generates around 1 billion baht a year.

Air Asia has also cut some of its ground costs by using airport buses to ferry passengers from a cheaper aircraft parking area, back to the terminals, foregoing the costs of the airport airbridges. Flights from Phuket to Don Mueang, for example, are now a full ‘bus’ service, sometimes adding an additional 15 minutes at either end for the loading up of the buses and the trip to the planes or the terminal.

It’s understood the excise tax collected since October 2019 totals 503 billion baht, down more than 6.5% on last year’s figure. Most of the income comes from oil or oil products, cars, alcohol, and cigarettes.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Bangkok

First airplane food cafe, now Thai Airways opens fried dough stand

Caitlin Ashworth

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First airplane food cafe, now Thai Airways opens fried dough stand | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Airways

Since not much is happening in the air, Thai Airways is running new business schemes on the ground. For their newest venture, the company opened a deep fried dough street food stand. They say the fried dough with taro custard is an “award winning” recipe.

Thai Airways has already opened a pop-up restaurant serving “in flight” food to customers seated in repurposed airplane seats. They also started offering package deals for a lessons on their flight stimulator, touting that it’s the most realistic stimulator in Thailand and is usually used to train pilots.

For their new fried dough stand outside of the company’s Bangkok headquarters, the new business venture has already “taken off.” Nation Thailand says a long line of people waiting for the 50 baht fried dough early Wednesday morning.

The stand is up from 6:30am to 9:30am in front of their headquarters on Silom Road.

Hopefully they’ll make a profit out of the fried dough with taro custard as they currently owe around 245 billion baht (give or take a few billion), according to Reuters. So 245 billion baht, divided by 50 baht, minus the costs of the taro and dough… they will have to sell a LOT.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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