Formally employed Thais also hit by coronavirus outbreak/shutdown; SSO under pressure

The Thais working in a formal capacity have been adversely affected by the government’s measures to control the spread of the coronavirus, government statistics on Monday revealed.

Thailand’s informal work sector has made the news in the past weeks as a government-mandated shutdown has put those working outside the social security system in a precarious economic situation.

The government’s aid measures have been criticized for leaving behind many and being insufficient.

Statistics revealed by the government on Monday showed that Thais working in the formal sectors and eligible for social security have also been badly affected by the shutdown.

The Social Security Office said that 1,177,841 people have applied for unemployment benefits due to shutdown related furloughs and firings. Of that number 958,304 are eligible.

Between April 20 to May 2, a total of 455,717 people were paid by the SSO for a total disbursement of 2.3 billion baht.

207,895 remain to be paid with almost 300,000 awaiting the verification process. The SSO said they are seeing an increase of around 30,000 new claimants per week.

SSO dealing with ‘unprecedented’ number of claims

Sources within the SSO told Thai Enquirer that the office was ‘not equipped’ to handle the number of claims they are currently facing.

“We can handle mass layoffs in certain sectors if there is a crisis,” the senior SSO manager said on condition of anonymity. “But as it stands every sector is seeing layoffs, it is unprecedented.”

There is a reason that so many people remain unverified for payouts, it is because our infrastructure was not designed to handle this kind of overload, the source added.

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The government said that it would introduce aid measures to help small and medium businesses, those most likely to furlough or lay off staff, as the crisis continues.

The Bank of Thailand announced two emergency decrees last month aimed at helping SMEs weather the crisis. These measures include reducing the debt burden, increasing liquidity, and supporting debt restructuring programs for SMEs. The decree is meant to prevent the lack of liquidity and defaulting.

Despite aid measures and stimulus packages, the central bank still sees a recession for the country in 2020 of around 5 per cent.


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