Somkid seeks remedies for ailing sector

Somkid seeks remedies for ailing sector

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak has ordered the Finance Ministry to come up with remedy measures for the virus-ravaged tourism sector.

He also assigned the Commerce Ministry to collaborate with face mask producers to speed up output to address a shortage.

Mr Somkid said the coronavirus outbreak has drastically affected the tourism industry, which employs millions.

"The tourism industry engages the service sector, including tour operators, tour guides, souvenir shops, hotels and logistics services," he said. "The sector contributes up to 20% of GDP and employs 20 million people."

Mr Somkid said the remedy measures should cover workers in the industry, not just owners or operators.

He said the government is also considering adding public holidays to boost domestic tourism, with urgent aid measures already green-lighted for tourism operators battered by the coronavirus outbreak.

The measures approved by the cabinet on Feb 4 include a soft-loan scheme for tourism operators, a jet fuel tax cut and a tax deduction from corporate income of up to two times expenses on seminars.

The cabinet has pushed back the deadline for the filing of personal income tax to support individuals and businesses hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

Those required to pay taxes are allowed to make their payments until the end of June. Fiscal Policy Office director Lavaron Sangsnit earlier said his agency was ready to consider a call by bus tour operators to cut excise tax on fuel, currently at five baht a litre.

Kasikorn Research Center (K-Research) estimates that the coronavirus crisis could lower Thailand's nominal GDP by 0.09-0.13% if the outbreak lasts longer than three months but less than six months.

For Thailand, the impact is moderate, the research house said in a note. Economic damage could amount to US$500-700 million, it said.

Thailand's economy relies on China's economy at a medium level, while Vietnam, Singapore, Laos and Cambodia have high exposure to the mainland, K-Research said. The impact on each Asean country varies depending on economic strength, structure and adaptation to alleviate such effects.

The research house said Thailand's and Malaysia's respective dependence on the Chinese economy is quite diversified, though some sectors rely on the mainland at a high level.

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