Thailand News Update | Inflation rises up & Labour shortage in Thailand

Thailand has a perfect demographic storm heading its way after two years of very swift change in the local employment market. Whilst people scrambled to find new employment in the early days, and are now gainfully self employed, employers are complaining of acute labour shortages.This problem has been exacerbated by the closure of the borders stopping the flow of migrant labour, mostly from Cambodia and Myanmar, flowing into the country. They all moved back to their countries in the early months of the pandemic.The problem is also being fuelled by a decline in Thailand’s birth rate, and an ageing population.Manufacturers are complaining that they’re trying to get their factories back up to full speed again but they simply can’t find people to fill the jobs.Even Hotel operators are currently struggling to fill vacant positions as they reopen to tourists, according to Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association. She complained that a shortage of good applicants is pushing up the wages as the industry fights for the few, quality applicants.In Thailand there has been big rises in staples, making headlines this week, particularly in the pork industry. Meat and produce prices have been sneaking up and now impacting the cost of living for everyone living in the country.The Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is calling on the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Energy to hold urgent talks with producers of food and essentials about price freezes or other tools to control the rising prices.Prices for noodle, chicken, eggs, petrol and LPG prices, boat fees, even toll fees, are also increasing and but Deputy PM Supattanapong Punmeechaow is now asking Thais to “stay positive” amidst the price hikes and claims that “it is temporary”. Last week it was revealed that crocodile farms have been offering meat from their reptiles at 70 baht for kilogram. With the price of pork kicking over 200 baht per kilogram, people are getting on board with acquiring a taste for the cheaper crocodile meat.An official from the Ministry of Public Health announced that Thailand has had its first reported death from the Omicron variant of Covid-19. The death recorded in Songkhla province in the south of Thailand was an 86 year old woman from Hat Yai. She also had Alzheimer’s disease.The woman contracted the Omicron infection from her grandson who had travelled from Phuket.The Omicron variant has been spreading quickly through Thailand as it is much more contagious than other strains, but is reported to be less deadly than the Delta variant it has largely replaced. Following the first local Omicron transmission, officials decided to close registration for the Test & Go program that allowed international travellers to enter without quarantine, putting the brakes on Thailand’s attempt at tourism recovery, despite continuing on with four Sandbox options for tourists.Now, the kingdom has confirmed over 10,000 Omicron variant infections, with many patients reporting either mild or no symptoms. Today, the government recorded a low of just 9 Covid-deaths. Of the approximately 72 million people living in Thailand now, about two-thirds have had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, but only around 15% have had a booster shot.And while the government suspended new applications for Test & Go from December 22 last year, people who are already approved are still trickling in, and others are still arriving as part of the Sandbox programs in Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi and Samui. But despite throttling the influx of international travellers, the number of Covid infections brought in from abroad has been steadily rising, and the infection rate among those who arrive has sharply increased, with Russia leading the pack.In November when the government reopen the borders across Thailand to international travellers, the infections rate was 0.13%. In December as more people began arriving, that infection rate tripled to 0.45%.Now, in the first half of January, infection rates have skyrocketed to nearly 8 times higher as infections were found in the approximately 116,000 people who have arrived this year…. rate of 3.42%.Travellers coming from Russia made up the largest demographic, with the second most infections from the US… half of whom were returning Thai nationals.Germany and Sweden were the third and fourth largest feeder of imported Covid infections.In a new NIDA poll, questions about a controversial draft bill aimed at regulating NGOs operating in Thailand showed that people generally support the regulation. The poll asked people a variety of questions about how non-governmental organisations operate within Thailand.Activists and some human rights groups believe the goal of the law is to oppress dissent and demonstration in the country, while the government insists it’s a way to provide transparency and prevent foreign interference in elections and government operation.Asked if NGOs should be required to reveal the sources of their funding, 52.4% strongly agreed and 27.8% said they somewhat agree.Asked if NGOs that received foreign funding should be required to reveal the amount and purpose of funds, 58.1% said they strongly agree.When respondents were asked “Will the NGO regulation bill limit people’s right to assembly or protest?”31.3% said the freedom would be somewhat affected whilst another 22.8% beleived the freedoms would not be affected at all. Full results and analysis of that poll at the continuing saga of the 5 men accused of having killed 2 Bengal tigers, skinning them, and cooking their meat, the alibi they used to justify the poaching may end up backfiring on them as they are slapped with an additional charge. They were already charged with 10 different offences relating to the poaching including violating the Forest Reserve Law, the National Park Act, and the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act.The men claim that they are not hunters, but merely ranchers raising cattle and had killed the tigers after the big cats had killed around 20 cows from their farm and neighbouring farms. But authorities doubt their story, saying a rancher wouldn’t hunt the tigers so skillfully with precise headshots that did as little damage as possible to the skins which were then meticulously and professionally removed with great skill.Furthermore, Section 21 of the National Park Act forbids raising livestock or cattle in a national park, the areas they claimed they were raising cattle. Police are still gathering evidence in the alleged poaching case.Whilst other parts of the world are battling to open up, despite surges in the Omicron variant, most of Asia is heading in the opposite direction, adding further restrictions on travel around the region.Japan has announced new restrictions for travellers from Thailand entering the country, who must now undergo a full 13 day quarantine on arrival. The new restriction will go into effect today and will affect travellers coming from Thailand and 4 other countries.The new restrictions follow an announcement on January 15 easing restrictions for the rest of the world, replacing the mandatory 14 day quarantine previously required with a shortened 10 day quarantine.But now, travellers from India, the Maldives, Mexico, Nepal, and Thailand must be isolated for a 13 day period, after being added to Japan’s list of countries they consider to be experiencing a significant outbreak of the Omicron variant.

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