JSCCIB: 3 months to stave off job fallout
The government has been given three months to contain infections to prevent unemployment from skyrocketing countrywide as the latest outbreak prompts the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) to downgrade its economic outlook, with only 1.5-3.5% growth this year.
Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) chairman and JSCCIB member Supant Mongkolsuthree voiced the concern as, according to the Labour Ministry, over 100,000 employees have lost their jobs or been suspended from work, following the closure of more than 6,000 businesses in 28 red-zone provinces.
New infections found at a canned food factory yesterday will also cause fresh concerns over food safety, denting consumers' confidence and affecting the export sector, said FTI.
JSCCIB believes exports will expand by 3-5% this year, down from the previous estimate of 4-6% expansion, following the new outbreak. The committee has also adjusted the GDP growth forecast, which earlier stood at 2-4%, and slightly reduced the 2021 inflation rate forecast to 0.8-1% from 0.8-1.2%.
The economy will grow by 1.5-3.5% if the government can stop the spread within three months, said JSCCIB.
Thai Chamber of Commerce chairman Kalin Sarasin, who chaired the JSCCIB meeting yesterday, said the committee based its prediction on slow recovery of the global economy, the domestic outbreak and the remaining 200-billion-baht relief budget.
The money is part of the 1-trillion-baht loan decree, which has been gradually spent to relieve the outbreak's impact since last year.
"The economy is at high risk in the wake of the new outbreak, which will make the economy recover slower than expected," said Mr Kalin, adding the surge in cases will further weaken people's purchasing power.
Unemployment will also keep increasing if the government cannot stop the ongoing outbreak within three months, he said. Failure to contain the highly contagious virus will push the government to enforce more rigorous measures, which is a real concern.
"The FTI is not worried about the virus spreading from food to humans," said Mr Supant.