Concerns surrounding the new outbreak of COVID-19 in Thailand have directly impacted the economy, with New Year events cancelled and the tourism industry once again at a standstill. These conditions have caused the December 2020 Thai Chamber of Commerce Confidence Index (TCC-CI) to plummet to a 6-month low.
The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) released the TCC-CI for December 2020 at a score of 31.8, which is lower than November 2020’s figure of 33.7, due to concerns in the business sector about the impact of the second wave of COVID-19, on the public, business operations, and the national economy.
The UTCC President and Chief Advisor to the university’s Center for Economic and Business Forecasting (CEBF) said today that failure to contain the new outbreak within the next three months would result in more layoffs, which will heavily affected the national and regional economies at a time when the global economy is still unable to recover, while the industrial sector is incapable of making confirmed new investments.
The CEBF reports the current unemployment rate in Thailand is 2%, while it estimates the national economy in 2021 will grow 2.2%, lower than the previous estimate of 2.8%.
The center’s survey on household debts has found the average debt due for payment in 2020 per household is as high as 480,000 baht, which is a 42.3% increase and the highest in 12 years.
According to the CEBF, this alarming rise in household debt is due to higher living costs, the lack of income because of unemployment, and the loss of spending power, with some 70% of the factors related to the COVID-19 crisis. The center is optimistic the government will be able to manage this debt level, as most of the debts are owed to financial institutes.
The UTCC has suggested assistance measures for businesses affected by the current COVID-19 outbreak, including an interest rate reduction, as well as tax discounts or a payment deadline extension, in order to preserve jobs and effectively inject liquidity into the national economy.