Despite Thailand’s phased reopening, the economic situation in Pattaya remains desperate, with thousands of Thais still unemployed and scraping for food.
Already in fiscal straits before the coronavirus lockdown, many businesses will not be able to reopen even when they’re allowed to. Rents and wages have not been paid with even those that have managed to reopen facing a dearth of customers.
While Thailand’s coronavirus outlook now looks healthy, the economic damage is unlike that rarely ever seen.
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The poorest people always get hit the hardest. In Thailand, they are the daily-wage workers who don’t get paid if they don’t work. They form a large percentage of the workforce with insufficient educated to climb the economic ladder.
They also include hospitality industry workers, especially those in bars, pubs, hotels and restaurants; any place that serves alcohol. Continued unemployment and poverty exposes them to mental and medical ailments or even put them out into the street.
The scale of the downturn is unprecedented in Thailand and only large-scale monetary intervention and food assistance before year-end will prevent widespread disaster.
Thankfully, the Thai people’s culture of merit-making and the charity of business owners have stepped into the breach to provide free food regularly to the hungry.
Many gifts of money and heartfelt effort have been given to keep Rotary International’s Free Food Fund going, especially the Rotary clubs of Jomtien-Pattaya, Eastern Seaboard and Bangkok South which have embraced the charitable project and made major contributions so that the work can continue until, hopefully, there will be no further need for it.