Thailand

Thailand’s long haul low cost carrier NokScoot Airlines will enter liquidation as the coronavirus pandemic worsened conditions for the struggling airline, its parent company Nok Airlines PCL said on Friday, Reuters reported. NokScoot, a joint venture between Thailand’s Nok Air and Singapore Airlines’ owned Scoot, wrestled to grow its network in a highly competitive sector for years and was yet to record a profit since formation in 2014.

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Thailand’s central bank on Friday introduced additional debt relief measures, including interest rate cuts by 2-4 percentage points for credit cards and personal loans, to help debtors during the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters reported. The maximum interest rate for credit cards will fall to 16% per year from 18%, while the rates for personal loans will be reduced to 24-25% from 28%, effective from Aug. 1, the central bank said in a statement. The new rates for revolving loans and instalment loans will be 25% and for auto title loans will be 24%.

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Thai Airways International Pcl on Wednesday said it appointed board members as rehabilitation planners in a bankruptcy court submission, Reuters reported. The court accepted the airline’s request for bankruptcy protection earlier in the day, setting the first hearing for August 17. It gave creditors until three days before then to submit objections. The rehabilitation committee comprises the flagship carrier’s chairman Chaiyapruk Didyasarin, acting president Chakkrit Parapuntakul and three newly appointed board members, including its former CEO, Piyasvasti Amranand.

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The Bank of Thailand cut its benchmark interest rate to a fresh record low and said it was ready to use additional policy tools if needed with the economy expected to shrink further. By a 4-3 vote, the central bank lowered the policy rate Wednesday by 25 basis points to 0.5%, its third cut this year, Bloomberg News reported. All but three of 24 economists in a Bloomberg survey correctly predicted the decision, with the others expecting no change.

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Thailand’s cabinet approved a plan to restructure troubled Thai Airways International Pcl’s finances through a bankruptcy court, the Southeast Asian country’s prime minister said on Tuesday, Reuters reported. The plan for a court-led restructuring of the national carrier replaces a previous proposal of a government-backed rescue package that was heavily criticised in the country. The airline’s troubles are the latest example of how the coronavirus pandemic is crippling the global airline industry.

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Thailand’s government said on Monday it plans to submit a rehabilitation plan for troubled national carrier Thai Airways International Pcl to a bankruptcy court rather than go ahead with a planned rescue, Reuters reported. “The State-Enterprise Planning Office agreed in principle for the rehabilitation of Thai Airways in court ... the procedure will be submitted to cabinet tomorrow,” government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat said.

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Months of concern over rising Covid-19 infection levels may be secondary for investors in coming days as market-moving events and policy decisions take center stage, Bloomberg News reported. China’s annual National People’s Congress starting Friday will likely keep volatility suppressed for developing-nation currencies, despite the prospect of another flareup in tensions between Beijing and Washington.

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The Bank of Thailand has set guidelines for minimum assistance that financial institutions must offer to debtors to ease their financial burden amid the pandemic, effective from April 1, the Bangkok Post reported. Veerathai Santiprabhob, the central bank's governor, said the coronavirus outbreak has affected individuals and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on a far-reaching scale, leading to the need for a guideline. "A policy rate cut is insufficient to help borrowers," he said.

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The Bank of Thailand has demanded all financial institutions continue providing seven financial services, including deposits, money withdrawals, fund transfers, payments, cash management and settlement systems, in an effort to avoid potential coronavirus-related disruption, the Bangkok Post reported.

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The poorer debt serviceability seen earlier among small businesses is spilling over to medium-sized enterprises, suggesting more vulnerabilities in the financial system, according to the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting minutes from earlier this month, the Bangkok Post reported. Risks in the period ahead have increased as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, delayed government spending and the intensifying drought, the MPC said.

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