The cabinet resolution on relief measures, including new subsidies for power and water bills set to take effect next month, is necessary but insufficient to help businesses cope with the new outbreak of Covid-19 that is crippling the economy, say business leaders.
Households and small businesses are the main beneficiaries of the two-month financial aid, including a 10% discount on water bills. The government also promised to seek cooperation from internet service providers to reduce monthly service fees, deal with debt burdens for entrepreneurs and consider giving individual informal workers and farmers a monthly 3,500-baht handout for two months. The handout is scheduled for discussion at a cabinet meeting next Tuesday.
The Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) and the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) welcomed the new relief package, saying it is a start in providing help.
“The FTI agrees with the cabinet’s approval as some measures are similar to those proposed by the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking [JSCCIB],” FTI vice-chairman Kriangkrai Tiannukul said.
TCC chairman Kalin Sarasin said he wants to see more aid packages, including helping the hardest-hit hotels retain their employees and increasing the 3,500-baht subsidy in the co-payment scheme to 5,000 baht to stimulate spending.
Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association, said the new relief measures are not enough to save tourism operators from hardship as the recent outbreak aggravated a situation that was already critical last year.
For instance, the electricity bill reduction should last for six months to help hoteliers, rather than just two months, she said.
A proposal from the private sector — a 50% co-payment scheme for monthly salaries — which wasn’t approved on Tuesday is the most urgent need for the hospitality sector, said Mrs Marisa.
“The government is the only one who can lend a hand and help us protect jobs at this moment,” she said. “The association will continue to push for the co-payment scheme.”
Mrs Marisa said the industry risks losing experienced labour because a whole generation of staff who worked for 20-30 years will be wiped out if hotels cannot keep them on the payroll.
When business revives, hoteliers will have to train new staff, which may not deliver such high-quality service to guests as veteran workers, she said.
Mrs Marisa said effective financial measures would prevent hoteliers from selling their properties to local billionaires or foreign investors.
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