Slow vaccination campaign threatens Thailand’s economic recovery
The Bank of Thailand (BoT) has again cut Thailand’s economic growth forecast for 2021 for the second time this year, targeting growth of just 1% to 2%, depending mainly on purchasing and distribution Covid-19 vaccines.
The previous central bank GDP growth estimate was set at 3% before the start of the third wave of Covid-19 in April, but it now includes three different scenarios targeting growth between 1 and 2% depending on of the country’s vaccination campaign.
For the baseline scenario, the bank projects GDP growth of 2%, assuming vaccine procurement and distribution to reach 100 million doses this year and lead to herd immunity in the first quarter of 2022.
Worst-case scenario could push Thailand’s growth down to 1%
But if the vaccine rollout drops to just 60 million and above, Thailand’s growth could drop to just 1%, leaving the country with less than a million tourists.
Last week, the finance ministry also cut its Economic growth forecast for 2021 for the second time at 2.3% of 2.8% growth, after a third wave of coronavirus infections hit Thailand this month, reducing its forecast of the number of foreign tourists to just 2 million this year from the 5 million it had predicted three months ago.
Business leaders are now openly criticizing Thailand’s slow vaccination pace compared to its Southeast Asian neighbors. A recent assessment by The Economist placed Thailand 124th out of 154 countries for the percentage of adults who received the first dose of a vaccine.
William Heinecke, Founder and Chairman of Minor International, a leading Thai hotel and restaurant company, said, “We will lose the tourism business to Vietnam, Hong Kong and Singapore because they have more effective vaccination programs.” according to a Nikkei Report.
Thailand now lags behind many countries in vaccine procurement, including most of ASEAN.
“The Thai government has no excuse because other countries have bet on many brands of vaccines and are now proving they can manage the risks much better than Thailand,”
Pipat Luengnaruemitchai, Chief Economist at Kiatnakin Phatra Securities
“This suggests that the government has failed in dealing with crises over-reliance on a single vaccine brand, AstraZeneca, and a production plant in Thailand,” said Pipat Luengnaruemitchai, chief economist at Kiatnakin Phatra Securities. ThaiPBS.
This view is now increasingly shared by many other figures in Thailand, such as Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, former leader of the disbanded Future Forward Party, who was accused of lese majesty when he openly criticized the government for the supplies. vaccines on his Facebook account.
Social networks in arms
As Thailand struggles to contain a third wave of the pandemic, discontent is growing bolder on social media: A group called Mor Mai Thon (“Doctors won’t tolerate this”) has launched an online campaign calling for the dismissal of Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, leader of the Bhumjaithai party, a key member of the ruling coalition.
The hashtag # ย้าย ประเทศ กัน เถอะ (Let’s Move Countries) has been following trends on Twitter and other social media to highlight how Thailand has been overtaken by its regional neighbors in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Thai Facebook page “Let’s move, move our hips” โยกย้าย มา ส่าย สะโพก โยกย้าย (renamed “Let’s Emigrate” # ย้าย ประเทศ กัน เถอะ) already has 1 million members, giving advice to young Thais who want to go and work abroad.