Giant firms call for jab options
published : 18 Mar 2021 at 04:44
newspaper section: Business
writer: Kanana Katharangsiporn
Thailand should allow more options for Covid-19 inoculations to speed up the reopening scheme, or else more layoffs will come in the second half, warns the Mall Group and Sansiri.
Supaluck Umpujh, chairwoman of the Mall Group, said many business owners, particularly those in the tourism industry, are willing to pay for Covid-19 vaccination for their employees to reopen their business.
"Many vaccine types have been validated by the World Health Organization," she said. "Thailand should consider allowing more options to accelerate herd immunity in the country so we can reopen the tourism industry immediately."
She said the Maldives vaccinated its residents and has welcomed more than 100,000 tourists, while the UAE is open for those outside the country to have inoculations under certain conditions, such as 21-day stays.
"While waiting to receive two doses of vaccine, these people will spend on accommodation, entertainment and hospitals. This is a smart idea to gain revenue for the country," said Ms Supaluck.
She said Thais should have more vaccination choices so immunity can be built up faster.
The government should also announce a roadmap for its planned 26 million doses so the business sector can prepare, said Ms Supaluck.
She agrees with William Heinecke, founder and chairman of hospitality group Minor International, who submitted an open letter to the prime minister asking the government to urgently consider more vaccine options.
"We are waiting for feedback from the government about quarantine-free travel for vaccinated people," said Ms Supaluck. "How the government prepares to welcome international arrivals with vaccination passports is a serious issue."
During the recent outbreak in the Bang Khae area, where the Mall Group has a branch, the group acted quickly to fight the crisis, she said.
"In the first wave, Siam Paragon in the inner city was affected, but other branches on the outskirts or outer city areas were not," said Ms Supaluck.
"We cannot wait another six months as more people will be unemployed."
She said the group recorded a loss in January this year, which was the first time in the company's history it recorded a loss in that month.
Ms Supaluck suggested a cut in value-added tax from 7% to 5% for two years to boost spending.
Thailand should also add more man-made or artificial tourist attractions and extend opening hours for nighttime entertainment, she said.
"We should be recognised as a meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions hub before Vietnam seizes this segment," said Ms Supaluck.
Srettha Thavisin, president of SET-listed developer Sansiri, said the government should allow the private sector to import vaccines approved by Food and Drug Administration.
"The imbalance between public health and the economy may cause further damages as Covid-19 will stay with us forever," he said.
Mr Srettha said a constitutional amendment is needed, which he considers to be "the first vaccine" to help fix economic, political and social problems.