Mixed reviews for latest stimulus

Mixed reviews for latest stimulus

Cash handouts cut for Khon La Khrueng

A massage shop in Chiang Mai has a sign put up for the co-payment scheme to attract more guests. (Photo: Dusida Worrachaddejchai)
A massage shop in Chiang Mai has a sign put up for the co-payment scheme to attract more guests. (Photo: Dusida Worrachaddejchai)

The business sector has hailed the government's fresh spending stimulus measures but says the cash handout under the fourth phase of the "Khon La Khrueng" co-payment subsidy scheme sounds lower than expected. The private sector is also asking for additional stimulus packages to boost consumers' spending power.

FEWER THAN EXPECTED

Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the government has made a good decision in continuing to roll out measures to stimulate people's spending on top of packages approved late last year.

"For the fourth phase of the co-payment subsidy scheme, I see 1,200 baht cash handout per person is slightly lower than we expect," he said. "But we expect the government is likely to come up with additional measures to stimulate further spending."

Mr Sanan expects the revised We Travel Together measure to encourage people to travel more during the high season and help contribute revenue to the country's regions.

While welcoming the fourth phase of the co-payment scheme, Supant Mongkolsuthree, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) said the cabinet's decision to reduce the subsidy from 1,500 to 1,200 baht a person was a surprise.

"This is a good campaign to boost the domestic economy in the short term, especially helping relieve people's struggle to deal with high living costs," said Mr Supant.

"But a cap on the subsidy at 1,200 baht raises a question over whether the government has some financial problems."

FTI also agrees with the approval of We Travel Together, a hotel subsidy campaign, as it can help stimulate domestic tourism, which will play a key role in driving the pandemic-ravaged travel industry at a time of low foreign arrivals.

These two schemes are necessary to help both businesses and people, but are not sufficient to bring the Thai economy back on track.

The government needs long-term economic recovery plans to boost the economy and sustain its growth, said Mr Supant.

DOUBLE BONUS

Phisut Sae-Khu, president of the Thai Hotels Association's eastern chapter, said recent approval of an additional 2 million room nights of We Travel Together, a hotel subsidy scheme, along with the resumption of Test & Go for international travellers next month, creates positive momentum for tourism.

However, the tourism situation in Pattaya remains opaque as it has to wait until March to see more demand as tourists may want to delay their plans until the number of Covid-19 cases drops.

Meanwhile, international Test & Go travellers are expected to arrive in mid-February at the earliest.

Mr Phisut said most local tourists may opt for Songkran holidays as there are no more long weekends in February and March.

However, a short-haul destination like Pattaya will not reap benefits from this festival as tourists mostly head to their home provinces instead.

More tourism stimulus to attract potential segments like meetings and seminars have to be implemented because the off-peak season is right around the corner when April ends.

Mr Phisut said the government should introduce tax breaks or subsidise costs from domestic meetings and seminars to fill up room occupancy during weekdays, which could complement We Travel Together, which already attracts trips during weekends.

TIMELY

Boonyong Tansakul, chief executive at Zen Corporation Plc, the operator of the Zen Japanese restaurant, said that the co-payment subsidy scheme seems to be the best economic stimulus campaign that the government has launched.

He added that the fourth campaign is being launched at the proper time when consumers are confronting higher costs of living due to the raised price of pork and other raw materials.

"All three phases have received warm responses from customers and seldom saw a negative comment from customers. It should be a campaign that will move toward until expensive prices of goods are relaxed,'' Mr Boonyong said.

According to Mr Boonyong, the co-payment subsidy scheme also works quite well and delivers a strong impact both to consumers, SMEs and small shops, which are finding it tough to sell their products due to higher operating costs.

"It is now difficult for the government to stop the scheme because people are addicted to it,'' Mr Boonyong said.

Additional reporting by Pitsinee Jitpleecheep


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