Industrial sentiment falls again
The Thailand Industry Sentiment Index (TISI) in August declined to 76.8 points, down from 78.9 in July, hitting its lowest level in 16 months, as businesses bore the impact of Covid-19 and lockdown measures to contain the virus, said the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).
Concerns over political conflicts, including anti-government protests, were ranked third, following the economic downturn and the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak, in the latest FTI survey of 1,395 enterprises in 45 industries, which was conducted to calculate the TISI.
The TISI decline resulted mainly from the prolonged Covid-19 outbreak and the government's decision to impose strict lockdown measures, including a night-time curfew, in 29 provinces in August, according to the FTI.
The lockdown impact was also reflected in product delivery delays, especially those in export-oriented industries, said Supant Mongkolsuthree, chairman of the FTI.
He acknowledged that mass vaccination programmes were essential to taking Thailand out of the current crisis.
"Vaccines are a key factor in driving forward the economy and the government must speed up vaccinations among factory workers," said Mr Supant.
Covid-19 is threatening to harm the manufacturing sector as new infections continue to climb, with 61,919 workers in 881 factories affected over the past four months, according to a report released by the Industry Ministry last week.
The FTI wants the government to help factory owners better cope with the outbreak by funding the establishment of factory quarantine and accommodation isolation facilities.
Mr Supant said authorities should also help entrepreneurs buy rapid antigen test kits for use amongst factory workers every 14 days, in order to quickly remove infected workers for treatment and prevent further transmission.
He added that a debt moratorium, covering both principal and interest, should be implemented and last between six months and a year to relieve the financial troubles of businesses affected by lockdown measures.