Wednesday, September 22, 2021

in-focus

Factories reel under cost burden of compulsory Covid prevention measures


More than 60,000 factories are hit by a spike in costs due to the government’s Covid-19 prevention measures that have been enforced in provinces with a high infection rate, Wisit Limleucha, vice president of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), said on Wednesday.

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The government has stipulated that factories in "dark red" provinces, having more than 50 employees, or using machinery of over 50 horse power, must establish a Factory Accommodation Isolation (FAI) centre with beds for at least 10 per cent of total employees to isolate staff who might have contracted Covid-19. Any businesses failing to comply will face a shutdown.

“More than 60,000 factories are bound by this rule and their costs are going up from establishing the FAI,” he said. “Furthermore, the government’s bubble and seal initiative also forces factories to perform Covid-19 testing on all employees every week. These factories, which hire a total of 3.2 million people, are being burdened by the cost of antigen test kit [ATK]. For example, if a 300-staff factory were to perform testing every week at 100 per cent of employees, the cost of ATK will be Bt257,143 per month,” he added. “However, if the government reduces the mandatory testing to 10 per cent of employees every 14 days, the cost will come down to Bt12,857 per month.

“This problem can be solved by either reducing the mandatory testing rate or the government supporting the cost of ATK,” he added.

Wisit said the government had yet to roll out measures that would directly help entrepreneurs. “The only support we have received so far is letting employees under the social security scheme register for Covid-19 vaccine, but the vaccines provided are still not enough for all employees,” he said.

“The FTI urges government support for testing equipment for factories in dark red zones which require a budget of around Bt5 billion. "Furthermore, the government must provide vaccine to 100 per cent of factory employees as soon as possible to stop the virus from spreading.

“Without proper support, factories that are not financially strong, especially small and medium enterprises, would eventually have to shut down,” he warned.

Published : August 26, 2021