By The Nation
TCC chairman Kalin Sarasin said the private sector was still concerned about unemployment caused by Covid-19 and government restrictions that had hit businesses. Many methods were being used to keep businesses open, including reducing salaries, automating human jobs, and staff layoffs, he said. Meanwhile a TCC survey conducted two months ago found that the virus crisis may push unemployment up to 7 million, though the National Economics and Social Development Council (NESDC) projects up to to 8.4 million will be jobless and 2 million will be unemployed all this year.
To tackle the problem, the TCC has partnered with Accenture Thailand to launch the "People + Work Connect" platform. Launched today (June 2), the platform’s first phase links workforce data from different companies to form a pool of labour to match their needs. So far, 29 corporations have joined the project, which helps to slow down unemployment and provide opportunities to laid-off workers.
Kalin added that the private sector is worried about what economic shape Thailand will be in once the virus crisis is over. As such, the TCC has gathered concerns and suggestions from businesses as a basis for consultations with all government agencies. The key challenge, he said, is finding a new strategy to pave the way for Thailand, since Covid-19 had changed everything. The government must review its national strategy, ranking plans and guidelines according to new priorities and rethinking national spending.
However, the private sector is confident the economy will improve in the the second half of 2020, as the government start to unlock the business lockdown. About 90 per cent of private and state enterprises would reopen, to drive purchasing power and investment again. But GDP this year is still forecast to shrink by 5 per cent.
The TCC estimates total revenue in the economy is now around Bt100 billion while the third phase of lockdown easing should double that figure. The chamber believes that if the number of new virus cases remains low and the state gradually allows remaining businesses to reopen, businesspeople and investors from Japan, China, the United States and Europe will return to boost the Thai economy.
"The ‘unlocking’ period has two parts. In the first, some businesses need to be opened fully and fast while the others need to be opened more gradually according to virus preventive measures and numbers of new cases. The private sector considers that any business equipped with standard protection should be opened, especially for investors and foreign workers,” said Kalin.
He added that the curfew should remain to prevent a second-wave outbreak, but its hours should be gradually cut.
Supawan Tanomkieatipume, president of the Thai Hotels Association, said that hotel revenue had dropped to zero during the pandemic outbreak. About 90 per cent of hotels had closed temporarily, which had affected 1.6-1.7 million staff. Hotels are expected to reopen in July but operate at only 30-40 per cent capacity to comply with government measures, for which hotels must bear the cost.
"Seventy per cent of Thailand's tourism revenue comes from foreign tourists, while 30 per cent is domestic. In 2019, there were 38 million tourists yielding revenue of about Bt12 trillion. That figure is expected to fall by more than half this year. But we should see clear [positive] results from the government's stimulus measures in the fourth quarter," said Supawan.