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MPs push Bt1.9-trillion Covid-19 aid package through Parliament

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MPs push Bt1.9-trillion Covid-19 aid package through Parliament

By The Nation



The lower house of Parliament on Sunday (May 31) votes to approve key emergency decrees providing financial support to business and people hit by the Covid-19 fallout. Photo: Tanachai Pramarnpanich/NationPhoto.  


The Covid-19 financial aid package sailed through the House of Representatives on Sunday but opposition MPs attacked the Bt1.9-trillion aid as mostly benefiting big businesses.


After five days of debate, the lower house voted in favour of the Bt1.9-trillion package proposed by the government by issuing three related emergency decrees.


MPs voted 274 in favour of the first decree enabling the Finance Ministry to borrow Bt1 trillion in order to provide support to people adversely affected by the virus outbreak, while 204 MPs abstained.


The second emergency decree, authorising the Bank of Thailand to provide Bt500 billion soft loans to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) hit by the Covid-19 fallout, sailed through with 275 voting in favour and 205 abstaining.


The third emergency decree to support bond market liquidity via the Corporate Bond Stabilisation Fund (BSF), established by the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Thailand, prevailed with the backing of 274 MPs and 195 abstaining. There were 487 MPs in attendance for the voting session -- 276 from the coalition government and 211 from the opposition.


Nateepat Kulsetthasith, Move Forward Party MP, criticised the BSF as benefiting large corporates the most because it requires investment grade bonds, or BBB rated, to be eligible for bailout. Only large firms could raise funds via investment grade bonds, he said.


He also criticised the Bt500-billion soft loans available to support SMEs as too small, or only 10 per cent of the total SME market lending of Bt5 trillion.


Meanwhile, Wanvipa Maison, another Move Forward Party MP, questioned the governance of the BSF saying it was likely to benefit large corporations.


She suggested that some conditions to protect labour be added: the companies eligible for fund support must not lay off workers. They must have no record of abuse of labour rights. In case they have a current legal dispute with labourers, they should drop the case. In the future, if they abused labour rights, they must be forced to buy back corporate bonds from the fund. She also lamented that while businesses get financial support quickly, people have to wait longer for assistance.


Source: https://www.nationthailand.com/business/30388841



-- © Copyright The Nation Thailand 2020-06-01
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Thailand's parliament approves $58 billion economic package to ease virus impact



FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a protective face mask waits for customers in a mobile shop inside a shopping mall, after the Thai government eased isolation measures, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Bangkok, Thailand May 29, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva


BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's parliament passed a 1.9 trillion baht ($58 billion) economic support package on Sunday to ease the impact of the coronavirus.


The legislation, comprising three bills, include a government plan to borrow 1 trillion baht and central bank measures worth another 900 billion baht in soft loans and support for corporate bonds.


Of the 1 trillion baht of borrowing, 600 billion baht will be for public heath works and relief measures, and the rest for rebuilding the economy and job creation.


The bills must next be approved by the upper house Senate, which is expected to convene in early June, before they can become law.


The latest steps follow billions of dollars of stimulus measures introduced earlier this year to cope with the impact of the coronavirus on the Thai economy, which is heading into a recession.


Thailand began this month to gradually ease some restrictions introduced to contain the virus. More businesses classified as medium to high risks, including cinemas and gyms, will be allowed to reopen on Monday.


Thailand's central bank has said it expects the economy to sharply contract this year as the pandemic hit businesses and households.


Thailand reported four new coronavirus cases on Sunday. The country has confirmed 3,081 cases and 57 deaths since the outbreak began in January.


(Reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Susan Fenton)



-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-06-01
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