FTI puts lockdown price tag at roughly B60bn
The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) expects the government's 14-day lockdown measures in 10 provinces to cost the economy 50-60 billion baht amid concerns over further damage if the government fails to curb the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak.
Economic recovery is possible if the government manages to keep the infection rate below 1,000 new cases a day, said the FTI.
Supant Mongkolsuthree, chairman of the FTI, yesterday urged the government to speed up Covid-19 testing for people in the 10 provinces to sort out infected people for treatment.
This is crucial to reduce daily new infection rates, which stood at 9,317 with 87 fatalities on Tuesday, according to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.
The rate is expected to slow due to the 14-day lockdown measures, which include a shutdown of most shopping zones in department stores and a 9pm-4am curfew.
The measures have been enforced since July 12 in Bangkok and five neighbouring provinces -- Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan and Samut Sakhon -- as well as the four southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala and Songkhla, all bordering Malaysia.
"The FTI agrees with the lockdown in these high-risk provinces. It will have good and bad impacts, but it is better than doing nothing," said Mr Supant.
The new lockdown prompted the cabinet to approve a 42-billion-baht package of financial assistance for affected people and businesses.
The relief only helps people in the short term, the FTI said.
"The assistance only cures the symptoms, not the root cause of the economic illness," said Mr Supant.
The FTI plans to discuss additional relief measures to help businesses, now forced to reduce costs such as employment expenses, to deal with the lockdown's impact, he said.
The additional measures will eventually be proposed to the government, said Mr Supant.
He insisted the government needs to vaccinate 70% of the population so lockdown measures are not needed again to curb high Covid-19 infections.
"The FTI is aware Thailand is facing a vaccine shortage, but the authorities must continue to find more vaccines," said Mr Supant.
Some 25 vaccination centres in Bangkok have reportedly closed because of vaccine scarcity.
The state mass inoculation programme involves the cooperation of City Hall and the Thai Chamber of Commerce.
The FTI earlier announced it would buy China-made Sinopharm vaccines through Chulabhorn Royal Academy to vaccinate workers of companies that are FTI members.