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Phuket

Thai banks slash interest rates for foreigners

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Thai banks slash interest rates for foreigners | Thaiger

PHUKET: Thai banks here and across the country have quietly followed the legions of tuk-tuk drivers and street vendors who practice “two-tier” pricing – one for Thais and another for foreigners. In this case, the pricing relates to interest paid on savings accounts and fixed deposits. While the rates paid to foreigners vary from bank to bank, almost all are substantially lower than the rates paid to Thais. The sole exception to the two-tier interest policy in Phuket is Bank of Asia, now majority-owned by Dutch banking giant ABN-Amro. It currently pays 3.25% on savings, regardless of the nationality of the account holder. A spokesperson for the nation’s central bank, the Bank of Thailand (BOT), said that the institution had not issued any guidelines or directives relating to deposit interest paid to foreigners, and that it was up to the banks themselves to set their own interest rate policies. The only stipulations the BOT has made are that banks must keep their interest rates below a ceiling set each week by the central bank, and that they must post an up-to-date statement of all rates in their banking halls. In the six banks checked by Gazette reporters this afternoon, the notices were posted, but in Thai only. The Chairman of the Phuket Bankers Association, Chaiyos Chinda-Udomset, who is also vice-president of the Phuket Branch of Siam Commercial Bank, told the Gazette he was not sure why his head office in Bangkok was making a distinction between Thais and foreigners. He theorized that it might be because Thai banks are awash with baht and wanted to reduce their interest-bearing deposits. One way to do this, he said, would be to lower interest rates to unattractive levels. But when asked what percentage of the deposits in his bank are from foreigners, he agreed that it was minuscule. When asked why banks did not lower rates across the board, Khun Chaiyos said that Thais are accustomed to the idea of savings accounts, and that to lower rates too far might erode public confidence. The banks have not told their foreign depositors about the introduction of the policy. Some say they will pay the “Thai rate” to foreigners who can produce a work permit. But the offer is meaningless to most Phuket expatriates since they don’t even know that the rate on their deposits has been slashed. A Gazette online poll conducted earlier this week asked: “Did you know that Thai banks pay 3.5% on savings from Thais, and 0.5% to foreigners?” Among the 280 expatriate participants, 73% said “No”. Asked whether his bank had alerted foreign depositors to the new policy, Khun Chaiyos confirmed that it had not, and has no plans to do so. One foreigner approached outside of his bank said that he had had a “reluctant account” there for seven years and had “learned to live with surprises”. And the British Ambassador to Thailand, Sir James Hodge, in Phuket earlier this week, told the Gazette, “Any suggestion that foreigners should be treated differently…from Thais is something which we would not welcome, which we would encourage the authorities to change.”

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

12 Covid-19 violators busted drinking on Patong Beach

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: A group drinking on the beach was arrested for violating Covid-19 restrictions. (via Freepik)

12 violators of Covid-19 restrictions, of Thai and foreign origin, have been arrested and taken into custody by police for gathering and drinking in public on Patong Beach. The Covid-19 measures currently in place in Phuket ban all get-togethers involving alcohol, limiting the number that can drink together to just 2 people. The group were arrested for violating this order and for drinking in public.

According to the police the group had 3 foreign men in it along with 5 Thai women and 3 Thai ladyboys, so for those keen at maths the details of the 12th person were not revealed. The Covid-19 rule violators were arrested Friday night in Patong on the walkway along the beach on Thaweewong Road, the popular beachfront road.

Police noted the specifics of their liquor stash, confirming that the group had 2 bottles and 8 cans of Thai beer, 2 imported beers, 4 wine coolers, 4 soda waters, and 2 bottles of Thai liquor. The stash was confiscated by the police.

The perpetrators were brought to Phuket town to the Phuket City Police Station. There they were met by the Phuket Vice governors and medical personnel from Vachira Phuket Hospital. The medics administered swab sample Covid-19 test to each member of the group of restriction violators.

The Vice Governor reminded people that these restrictions were put in place after more than 20 people tested positive for Covid-19 from a small group of people drinking together. That is why the regulations allow just two people together when alcohol is involved. He stressed that police and government officials have been instructed to crack down on violators to try to quickly curb the spread of Covid-19 for a chance at reopening to international tourism July 1st.

Officials asked the public to work together to attempt to eliminate the spread of Covid-19 in Phuket and instructed anybody who sees violators of the Covid-19 restrictions to contact the police immediately. Sentence and fine details were not yet available for the group of 12.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 mask violators in Phuket forced to exercise

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Pushups instead of a 6,000 baht fine at a Phuket checkpoint yesterday. (via video screenshot)

For those who have more pounds on their body than pounds in their pocket, exercise punishment seen in Phuket yesterday for mask violators may or may not be welcome. Officials have walked back the strict 6,000 baht punishment for the first warning against someone not wearing a mask and were spotted forcing those who have gone out without a mask to do exercise on the street.

The people forced to exercise were at a Covid-19 checkpoint in the Rawai subdistrict, where the Chalong Police along with local medical workers were checking people yesterday. The checkpoint was set up in an effort to push one hundred per cent mask compliance to stop the spread of Covid-19 on Phuket.

Not only were they checking everyone who passed by to make sure they had their masks, but also to correct those who were wearing their masks improperly. We’ve all seen the people who seem to think that a mask on their chin or underneath their nose is somehow just as effective as a properly worn mask, or at least that they can get away with “wearing a mask” while limiting their personal inconvenience.

Officials were quick to point out that the overwhelming majority of people passing through the checkpoint, both foreigners and Thai, did have their masks with them and were wearing them properly. But they did catch more than 10 people not wearing their face mask or not using them correctly.

Authorities decided to let them off with a first soft warning by moving bodies instead of moving baht. Police made violators do exercise right there on the street in hopes of shaming them into making better decisions next time. All violators did have their names and details taken down with a promise that if they were caught again proper traditional fines would be handed down.

No word yet on any plans to make this punishment into a Tik-Tok Channel.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

 

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Tourism

Thai public health and tourism ministers on Phuket to push the July 1 Sandbox reopening

Tim Newton

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Bangkok has sent a couple of ministerial heavyweights to Phuket today to keep pushing the July 1 ‘Sandbox’ bandwagon, insisting that Phuket will open to fully vaccinated tourists from July 1.

The Deputy PM and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul ,along with the Sports and Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, are doing the island PR tour today delivering a message from the PM Prayut Chan-o-cha who is confirming that Phuket will open to fully vaccinated international tourists from the start of July.

Phuket has continued to rack up between 10-20 new Covid infections each day over the past week and still has hundreds of people listed as ‘active cases’. As of today 22% of the island has been vaccinated.

The original Phuket Sandbox model was intended to be quarantine-free. That issue was not made clear during today’s PR trip from the 2 ministers. The full details of how Phuket will open to international tourists, how those tourists might get to Phuket, or where they will visit on an island with its tourist infrastructure shutdown, have not been provided at this stage. It has also not been discussed how long the international tourists will have to remain on Phuket before travelling to other parts of the country.

The Phuket Governor welcomed the prime ministerial delegation to Provincial Hall at lunchtime saying that Phuket would progress with its plans to launch the Phuket Sandbox from July 1.

“All stakeholders who are frontline warriors working to solve the problem of the Covid epidemic situation have earned the goodwill and concern from Prayut Chan-o-cha, who also believes that Phuket is ready to prepare for the opening of the Phuket Tourism Sandbox on July 1 for sure.”

Phuket Province generated several hundreds of billions of baht of income for the country per year and Thailand relies heavily on tourism income. Indeed, second to Bangkok, Phuket was the government’s golden goose delivering decades of high tourism receipt returns.

Speaking to The Phuket News, Anutin said…

“The government is ready to act as soon as possible. This has been clearly proved, such as by the large number of vaccine doses that Phuket has been allocated to vaccinate the people in the area to cover all groups and be as safe as possible as the ‘Phuket Model’.

“When the economy is good, everyone gets better, so use patience to believe that good things will follow”.

Another 100,000 Sinovac vaccines arrived on the island to be formerly handed over today by Minister Anutin. An additional 100,000 doses will arrive on Tuesday.

AstraZeneca vaccines are also due to arrive from June, daily reserved for people over 60 years old or people who have other health conditions which require the AZ vaccine instead of the Chinese manufactured Sinovac.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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