Summary of AMCHAM Business Today Video Conference for May 13

Summary of AMCHAM Business Today Video Conference for May 13

Cabinet Resolutions

  • The Labor Ministry was seeking approval from the cabinet on an increase to 75% of daily wages as compensation payments for workers that are unemployed or suspended from work due to covid-19.
  • Last Sunday on May 10, they have backed off from the request after they were met with resistance from labor activists.
  • A second phase of the easing of lockdown is drawing near after the private sector suggested the government to continue withdrawing lockdown measures to allow businesses to restart.
  • A new contact-tracing app will be launched as part of the Thai government’s latest efforts to constrain the spread of the covid-19 virus, while they shift their focus from location targeting to testing six high-risk groups.
  • The president of the Thai Federation of Industries predicts the Thai economy to contract 3-5 percent in 2020 and exports will contract by up to 10%.
  • The Ministry of Education is planning to test an online learning system, in case schools are still deemed unsafe by the new school year at July 1. The new curriculum will allow students to access education while staying safe, through distance learning via 17 TV channels.

 

State of Emergency Decrees

  • After the state of emergency was made official, an AMCHAM member in the manufacturing industry expressed that their factories have been operating under the many decrees that were enacted during the course.
  • Their main concern is with one decree which states that in the case that if one of their workers contracts the virus, the whole factory would have to be shut down and all staff will have to go through the 14-day quarantine.
  • However, with the current easily accessible covid-19 testing and substantial decrease in the number of new cases, the decree no longer seems necessary.
  • Another member advised that they should shift to communicating and working more closely with their local health departments since decrees vary depending on the city or province, and the type of business as well.

 

Return to Normal Operations

  • Even though some companies are pushing ahead to maintain business as usual by introducing strict safety protocols and social distancing guidelines, the Thai government recommends that all businesses go on a hiatus or reduce staffs working in the office by 50%.
  • A member company added that returning to the office will be a slow process even when the virus subsides, and it is a tough call to judge when is the right time considering the risks.
  • Their approach is to gradually introduce 1/3 of the workforce to the office and closely monitor the process for any hiccups over a period of 1-2 months especially for staffs in Bangkok, where the effect of the outbreak was most prominent. If all goes well, the next 1/3 will join in until eventually all 100% are back to normal operations.
  • Others are intending to end their work from home period by June as they are seeing increased demand for their products and services during this unusual time.

 

Financial Aid for Workers

  • A member company that has applied over 1000 of their workers for the unemployment benefits by the Social Security Fund has seen 270 of their workers received payments.
  • However, they noted that even with constant communication with the Social Security Office, the pace of the process is not ideal.
  • For workers whose premises were not closed by the government, the question of whether they are eligible to receive the payments remains unsettled.
  • Also, they voiced that extension of the payment time to be over 3 months or 90 days should be a major focus as it will be a big help to curb unemployment and bankruptcy in Thailand.

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