Poverty, emergency rule and the military-backed regime

1 07 2020

No one really needs “critics” to explain the reasons for the regime has further extended its “virus crisis” emergency rule by another month.

As the military powerbrokers who have run the regime since the 2014 coup exert control over their party, they also prepare for sharing the spoils of their control of the state.

Think how much wealthier the local dark influences like convicted heroin smuggler and minister Thammanat Prompao can become as they keep the generals safe in power. Emergency rule provides the cover for the deals being done.

How’s that working out for the rest of the country? Not so well it seems, with the World Bank forecasting “it will take Thailand at least two years to resume its pre-Covid real growth level…”. But, that was “already one of the lowest in the region at 2.8% in 2019…”.

The World Bank has said the economy will contract by at least 5% this year. The Asian Development Bank  and International Monetary Fund (IMF) reckon it will be a 6.5% contraction. But the “Bank of Thailand (BOT) is more pessimistic … revis[ing] its gross domestic product (GDP) estimate downwards to a 8.1% contraction, worse than the 7.6% contraction of 1997…”.

What really matters is the impact on average people. The World Bank says the “number of those living on less than US$5.5 per day (the World Bank’s definition of ‘economically insecure’) in the kingdom has more than doubled from 4.7 million in the first quarter of 2020 to 9.7 million in the second quarter.”

Over the period of the junta, Thailand’s the poverty rate had already expanded from 7.2%  to 9.9%. Since the virus crisis lockdown, poverty has expanded from the agricultural sector. According to the World Bank, it “is now reaching to the traditional economically secure or middle-class households in services and manufacturing.”

Some estimates are that a quarter of people lost jobs or were laid-off during the shutdown.

While the regime put a number of relief programs in place, many of these support the already wealthy – even the super rich – and others are overly bureaucratic and miss many of the most vulnerable people.

It seems the regime knows that the suffering is widespread. Its response is consolidation and probably more repression.



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