(Bloomberg) — Thailand is cautiously looking at plans to reopen its borders as it struggles to survive an extended period without international visitors, who account for about two-thirds of the country’s tourism income.
“The virus won’t go away soon and we have to think about the economy. But we can’t just reopen the borders. We have to be careful,” Transport Minister Saksiam Chidchob said in an interview. “Thailand has a limited budget so we have to make sure we can control the disease well.”
Thailand may allow some foreign visitors into the country as early as October. Tourists from countries with limited infections will probably be required to wear wristbands with GPS tracking systems and will need to be quarantined in a hotel for the first 14 days, Saksiam said. The plan is likely to be tested in Phuket province, he said.
Go to Phuket for the Beaches, Stay for the Food and Adventure
Thailand’s borders have been closed to most visitors since late March. While there have been several proposals for international travel arrangements, the government keeps adjusting plans to reopen for tourism, which makes up 20% of the economy.
The government has been trying to promote domestic tourism with a campaign to foot 40% of travelers’ hotel bills, but local spending alone can’t compensate for a loss of foreign receipts.
Thailand faces one of the worst outlooks among emerging countries in Asia as the pandemic batters its manufacturing sector and upends international travel, the two pillars of its economy. The Finance Ministry predicts gross domestic product will shrink by 8.5% this year, its worst contraction on record.
While the pandemic wreaks havoc on the economy, Thailand has managed to control the spread of coronavirus, with no locally transmitted cases reported in almost three months. In total, it has had 3,390 cases and 58 deaths.
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Trudeau Poised to Announce Three-Pillar Economic Recovery Plan – Yahoo Canada Finance
(Bloomberg) — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to unveil a new plan to try to contain the spread of Covid-19 and recharge Canada’s pandemic-battered economy, according to a senior government official.
The broad themes in this week’s so-called Throne Speech — which outlines his government’s priorities — will be a focus on the immediate task of tackling the coronavirus, a medium-term commitment to support Canadians through the pandemic and a “resiliency agenda” to spur recovery and reconstruction.
Trudeau’s agenda won’t establish budget targets, which will be left for Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland to detail later this year in a fiscal update, the official said, speaking on condition they not be identified because the document isn’t yet public.
Wednesday’s speech is one of the most anticipated in Trudeau’s five years in power, with questions mounting over how his governing Liberals plan to navigate their next policy steps amid surging Covid-19 case numbers and soaring budget deficits.
The prime minister needs to balance the need for more health-care spending with pledges to engineer an ambitious and green post-pandemic agenda. And he needs to do it without further eroding the nation’s financial credibility after one major credit-rating agency downgraded Canada’s debt.
“This government has set certain expectations and now the pressure is on them to meet their own expectations,” pollster Shachi Kurl, executive director of the Angus Reid Institute, said by phone.
Health care spending will be the first pillar for the economic recovery, the official said. This includes spending for vaccines, Covid-19 testing and support to localize outbreaks to maintain control over a resurgence of cases.
The second will be a pledge to provide financial support to Canadians who are struggling economically due to the pandemic, with a focus on shifting people back into the workforce.
Economic recovery and reconstruction efforts are the third pillar. This will include a pledge to help foster green investments, resolve major health issues such as long-term care for seniors and bolster support systems for the most vulnerable, like low-income women and minorities.
Trudeau has spoken publicly about plans to overhaul the employment insurance system, provide support for childcare and long-term care and build a cleaner economy through climate initiatives like retrofitting buildings and electric vehicles.
The prime minister suspended all parliamentary business last month after a public rift with his previous finance chief prompted Freeland’s appointment, claiming he needed a new legislative slate in order to move ahead with a “bold” new spending plan to help drive the recovery.
Canada has already budgeted C$380 billion ($289 billion) in new debt this year as a response to the downturn, spending that will likely drive the federal government’s debt to about 50% of economic output, from 31% last year. That’s triggered a backlash from business groups and economists, who are calling on Trudeau to commit to specific new debt targets to impose discipline on the budgeting process.
To assuage those concerns, Freeland vowed last week to preserve Canada’s reputation for sound fiscal management as her government considers the next steps to drive the recovery.
Trudeau is prepared to spend whatever it takes to combat the immediate impacts of Covid-19, given the emergency expenditures will only be temporary, the official said. Any future spending deemed structural, however, would be within new “fiscal tracks” that will be laid out by the finance minister later this year.
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©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Swedish government promises $12 billion to kick-start economy in 2021 budget – The Journal Pioneer
By Simon Johnson
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sweden’s government will pump 105 billion crowns ($12 billion) into the economy in 2021 through tax cuts and spending in a record giveaway aimed at getting the economy back on its feet after the coronavirus pandemic-induced slump.
Sweden’s economy will shrink around 4.6% this year, the minority coalition said its budget on Monday, a milder hit than many other European countries, some of which are being forced to re-impose COVID restrictions after a surge in new cases.
“Economic policy is going into a new phase,” Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson told reporters. “It is about a record-large budget to restart the Swedish economy: 100 billion so that we can work our way out of the crisis.”
The Social Democrat and Green coalition said the budget would focus would be on boosting jobs, welfare and supporting the switch to a carbon-free future.
Most measures, agreed with two small, centre-right parties which help keep the coalition in power, were already known.
Individuals and companies will get a tax cut and local authorities and welfare services more cash while around 10 billion crowns will go toward fighting climate change.
The budget is expected to create around 75,000 jobs.
LONG TERM WINNERS
While Sweden looks to have got off relatively lightly economically in the short term, analysts caution that it is too early to pick the longer term winners and losers from the pandemic.
Much will depend on how government largesse, including Europe’s 750 billion euro recovery find, is spent.
Sweden also faces a number of structural challenges, not least in the labour market where unemployment among young people and immigrants is uncomfortably high.
A dysfunctional housing market also threatens long-term economic stability while funding the country’s comprehensive welfare model as society as a whole ages will require a huge increase in productivity.
The government has promised to keep the taps open, at least for the next few years – tax cuts and spending will boost the economy by 85 billion in 2022.
But with a general election due that year, longer term policies remain unclear. The last national vote resulted an a virtual stalemate between the centre-left and centre-right blocs and there is little evidence that voters are any clearer about what they want now.
(Reporting by Simon Johnson, additional reporting by Johan Ahlander; Editing by Niklas Pollard and Toby Chopra)
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