Operators pan extension
TCC puts losses at up to 1 trillion baht
With the government’s latest decision to extend lockdown measures until the end of this month in the face of rising Covid-19 infections, business operators are complaining that the extension will exacerbate their plight and create higher economic losses to the country.
Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC), said his organisation estimates the country will suffer losses worth 800 billion baht to 1 trillion baht for the period between January and August.
If the government extends the tight restriction measures until September, the accumulated losses are likely to exceed 1 trillion baht, he said.
According to Mr Sanan, the business sector has also proposed the government raise the public debt ratio to 65% of GDP this year from 60% in order to speed up rehabilitating the overall economy, provide relief measures to people and businesses impacted by the deadly virus and prevent any further economic damage.
He said the TCC also called on the government to rev up spending the new 500-billion-baht loan decree to stimulate the fragile economy in the third quarter, adding the TCC also agreed with the Bank of Thailand’s proposal which urges the government to borrow an additional 1 trillion baht to address the severe economic impact of the pandemic and boost the country’s long-term growth prospects.
“The government needs to speed up its spending as fast as possible,” he said. “So far various businesses have ceased operation and many of them are waiting for the government’s relief measures to help them to shore up their operations. If more businesses are forced to close, higher economic losses are anticipated and it will be tough to recoup losses once their businesses are closed.”
Tanapoln Tunpasit, head of the Thai and Chinese Cuisine Group under Central Restaurants Group, the operator of KFC, Mister Donut, Aroi Dee and Thai Terrace, said the extension of the lockdown measures in 29 dark-red zone provinces until Aug 31 will definitely hit harder the business of Thai Terrace restaurant, which is a full dine-in business.
“We are now growing concerned about the plight of people who are in the restaurant ecosystem. The lockdown extension will definitely affect many groups of people from farmers who supply vegetables and manufacturers who provide seasonings as well as logistics providers,” he said.
“We’re also wondering why the restaurants are subject to the government’s lockdown since almost no cluster infections happen in the restaurant business. The cluster infections occur at boxing stadiums, pubs, bars and construction camps. We’re praying it [Aug 31] will be the last day of the lockdown,” he said.
Somphol Tripopnart, managing director of shopping centre business at MBK Plc, the operator of MBK, said he doesn’t agree with the government’s decision to extend the lockdown measures on restaurants until Aug 31.
“It’s been proven that the government’s month-long lockdown measures failed to contain the infections as expected. There are daily reports od rising infections and fatalities,” he said. “Although the measure is extended to September or October, I believe that the new cases remain unabated.”
Kessara Thanyalakpark, managing director of SET-listed developer Sena Development Plc, said the extension of the lockdown until the end of August will create an impact on residential demand.
“Those related to businesses being forced to close which could be owners, employees or supply chain of these businesses are large in number. With the lockdown extended to 60 days, they definitely have no sentiment to buy a house.”
She said the lockdown extension suggested that the situation remained poor as witnessed by the high caseload and high death toll. This scenario may last till next month.
On the supply side, there have been no further temporary closures of construction workers’ camps, as a result the supply chain of the property business has improved.
However, developers should keep bubble and seal measures in place to prevent possible new clusters.