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March 2020 : State of Emergency Applied Countrywide To Combat Covid-19

  • State of Emergency applies 26 March-30 April
  • House to reopen on schedule
  • Pandemic fund to draw from ministries' budgets
  • Former FFP MPs join Move Forward
  • EC takes criminal action against Thanatorn
  • Opposition parties to launch censure debate outside parliament
  • 24,079 non-Thai granted medical care services

    State of Emergency from 26 March-30 April

          The emergency decree comes into effect at midnight on 26 March, and remains in force through April 30.

          The decree authorizes the Prime Minister to chair the center to fight the virus, with the permanent secretaries of public health, interior, commerce and foreign affairs to help him. The supreme commander of the armed forces has been given responsibility for security affairs.
          To combat the Corona Virus 19 pandemic, the State of Emergency was applied countrywide to authorize the state to:
    1. Impose night curfew (if necessary).
    2. Banning public gathering.
    3. Banning the publishing of distorting news/information.
    4. Banning traveling.
    5. Banning people from entering or staying in certain buildings or risk area.
    6. Evacuate people from designated area for safety.
          Following the decree, measures would be issued by central and local authorities to suit the circumstances and meet with public health standards. Currently people can go outside their houses as usual but children under the age of five years and elderly over 70 are encouraged to stay home for their safety.

          Local authorities are empowered to close certain buildings and public areas as deem appropriate but shops selling food and essential consumer goods can remain open. Restaurants can open for takeaway.

          Since the Covid-19 broke out in January 2020, Thailand has a total of 1,651 infected patients on 31 March, among all 1,407 are Thais and 244 non-Thais. 1,299 are currently in hospitals, in which 23 are serious cases. A total of 342 had recovered and returned homes. Total death is 10.

          The 1,651 cases are divided into 869 in BMA, 77 in northeastern, 55 northern and 206 southern.

          As of 31 March, the Center for Systems Sciences and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University reported total infected cases 777,286 worldwide. Total deaths were 37,140.

          The government plans to appropriate 10% of the fiscal 2020 funds allocated to the ministries to add to the contingency fund to battle the outbreak. While Section 140 and Section 141 of the constitution require that a budget spending plan must be enacted by lawmakers, the Covid-19 pandemic justifies extraordinary measures and an executive decree can be issued under Section 172 of the charter.

          Section 172 empowers the government to act without approval during a national emergency. However, it needs to secure approval once the emergency has passed.

          However, the government will have to inform parliament of the actions taken as soon as parliament convenes again in May.

    Pandemic fund to draw from ministries' budgets

          The government is set to appropriate 10% of the fiscal 2020 budgets of each ministry for a central fund to fight the pandemic and rehabilitate the economy.

          The plan is part of a third round of government measures to stem the impact of the outbreak. These measures will focus on people living in rural areas, and stabilizing the financial and capital markets.

          The total budget allocated to all ministries amounted to 1.98 trillion baht in fiscal 2020.

          The government's plans to rehabilitate the economy will be applied to both persons and companies. Self-employed workers not under the Social Security Act will be given a 5,000 Bt. monthly cash giveaway for 3 consecutive months. Other assistances are 10,000 Bt. emergency loan without guaranteed, 50,000 Bt. special loan with guaranteed, low interest rate loans for public pawn shops, extension of tax payment from 30 June to 31 August 2020, tax waives for medical and healthcare staffs etc.

          For businesses and enterprisers, there will be a 3 million Bt. loan, extension of business tax payment etc.

    House to reopen on schedule

          Sukit Atthopakorn, adviser to House Speaker Chuan Leekpai, said the House will reopen for its session on May 22 as scheduled despite the Covid-19 outbreak as the constitution does not allow House meetings to be deferred.

          However, he said, on May 22 -- the first day of the session -- the speaker of the House has the authority to order future meetings to be cancelled.

          Alternatively, House meetings can be held remotely via teleconferencing, or in the Suriyan room inside parliament, which is large enough to accommodate up to 1,000 people with ample space between participants, or have the MPs meet through separate meetings organised by political parties, Mr Sukit said.

          Meanwhile, coalition partner Chartthaipattana Party yesterday demanded the temporary scrapping of the rule requiring parties to hold a general assembly by the end of next month, saying it is unrealistic during the outbreak.

    50 MPs join Move Forward

          Fifty former Future Forward MPs have applied to join the Move Forward Party and elected Pita Limjaroenrat as the leader of the opposition party.

          At their first meeting at the Thon Buri coordination centre formerly used by the now-dissolved FFP, the Move Forward members chose the partys 10 executives.

          Mr. Pita pledged to continue with FFP policies that focus on tackling structural problems.

          Well continue to push existing bills those aimed at abolishing all NCPO orders and ending the military draft which will pave the way for military reform, as well as the new labour protection and liquor bills to end the industrys monopoly.

          Above all, he said, the party will push constitutional amendments to give people real power so that elected bodies can speak for them. We will push for the end of appointed senators and the 20-year national strategy, as well as making sure independent organizations are linked to the people.

          The number was of MPs who applied on Saturday was lower than projected. Earlier, Mr Pita had said 55 would apply.

          Of the missing five, one has already joined a party in the governing coalition. The Election Commission said on Friday that list MP Julapan Nonsrichai had applied to join the Chartthaipattana Party.

    EC takes criminal action against Thanathorn

          On 10 March, the Election Commission (EC) resolved to take criminal action against the former leader of the disbanded Future forward Party (FFP) Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit for violation Section 151 of the 2018 Election Act. The EC found Thanathorn had applying to be an MP candidate regardless to knowing he was not qualified.

          The penalties for the offence are a jail term from 1-10 years, a fine from 20,000 to 200,000 baht and a ban from politics for 20 years.

          The Constitution Court ruled Thanathorn guilty of holding V-Luck media shares on 6 February 2019, when FFP submitted its party list candidates to the EC making him unqualified to be a member of the House.

          Beside Thanathorn, there are a few people to be taken criminal actions. They are unqualified to run the election such as not being member of the political party for at least 90 days on the election date, as required by the law.

          The EC will press all charges at the Tung Song Hong police station.

    Opposition parties to launch nationwide censure debate

          On 2 March, Phue Thai Party held a meeting of 6 opposition parties and have a consensus to launch censure debates nationwide.

          Advisor to the Opposition Parties Phumtham Vejchai said they will find solutions to solve national problems and will work together in the future. Common goal is to uphold democracy and look after the people. Political monitoring will be done in and outside the parliament and in- cooperation with the public.

    24,079 non-Thai citizens granted medical care services

          On 10 March, the cabinet resolved to grant medical care services to 24,079 non-Thai citizens.

          Those were people born from 1956- 1984, having registered with the registrar office but failed to obtain Thai citizenship.

          They will be entitled to healthcare services similarly to other Thais.
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