Around 20,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), mostly in the tourism sector, closed down during the first quarter of this year, due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Director of the Office of SMEs Promotion (OSMEP) Veerapong Malai said over the weekend that the closure of the SMEs during the first three months of this year was reflected in the two-to-threefold increase in the number of employees seeking compensation from the Social Security Office following redundancy, compared to the same period last year.
He said that, during the same period, about 23,000 new SMEs had, however, opened for business, mostly via online platforms, adding that exports are steadily picking up, thanks to a gradual economic recovery in developed economies, such as China, the United States and Japan.
Nevertheless, the economic growth rate of the SMEs for the first quarter of this year is projected to contract by up to 4.8%, instead of 2-2.4% as earlier forecast, because of the second wave of COVID-19 infections in December last year, which has substantially impacted the revenues of tourism-related SMEs, such as eateries and hotels.
To help cushion the impacts of the pandemic, Mr Malai said the OSMEP has rolled out the 50:50 stimulus package, with the aim of persuading about 100,000 SMEs to join the government’s procurement scheme.
Meanwhile, Mr Chonrungsee Chalermchaikit, honorary president of the Federation of Thai SMEs, noted that most SMEs do not have access to financial support, such as soft loans from commercial banks, and they are waiting for the Bank of Thailand to ease restrictions on borrowing.