Transport operators want swift end to decree
Further business losses could have long-term impact, says group representing 1.5m truckers
published : 22 May 2020 at 19:09
writer: Lamonphet Apisitniran
Transport and logistics operators say they oppose the planned one-month extension of the nationwide emergency decree, estimating the order will cost the economy a further 300-400 billion baht in June.
Extending the decree beyond May 31 is unnecessary to control the coronavirus outbreak because people have already adjusted their daily lives to the pandemic by taking comprehensive measures, said Thongyoo Kongkhan, an adviser to the chairman of the Land Transport Federation of Thailand (LTFT).
Instead, he said, the government should focus on stricter measures for those who travel overseas, where the risk of contracting and bringing back the virus could be higher.
“The government should cancel the emergency decree because it builds a negative atmosphere for business and investment,” said Mr Thongyoo, whose organisation represents around 1.5 million truckers nationwide.
The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration on Friday said it would recommend the extension to June 30 to the cabinet, which is expected to approve the proposal on Tuesday.
The LTFT says it is concerned that foreign firms will delay investment in Thailand because of the curfew and other measures that impede business operations.
In the worst-case scenario, a foreign company could move production to Vietnam or other Asean nations that are no longer in a state of emergency.
“Many countries that have been more severely affected by the virus than Thailand haven’t used emergency decrees and have let businesses run as usual,” said Mr Thongyoo.
The LTFT is also calling on the government to launch a long-term economic stimulus plan in the wake of the three-month handout scheme for workers affected by business closures.
“The business sector wants to see government measures to boost the domestic economy, increase purchasing power and rebuild consumer confidence,” he said.
He said the CCSA should consider the balance between the economy and health security, especially since there have been few new cases of the virus in recent weeks.
“If the economy continues to slow, it will be difficult to recover and many businesses will lose financial security,” Mr Thongyoo said.
The LTFT estimates that the country’s logistics and supply chain industry is worth 500 billion baht annually, making the sector the fourth-largest contributor to GDP behind exports, tourism, and agriculture and processing.
Since the viral outbreak, the government has provided no relief measures for truck operators and the logistics sector, he said. Earlier this year, the LTFT reported that 20-25% of truck drivers were out of work.