- With inputs from Jerene Ang
Over the past 48 hours, authorities across Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia have released a series of updates, as the region continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
This includes an update on foreigners allowed into Thailand during the ongoing State of Emergency, Government boost for support for MSMEs in Indonesia, an automation grant for Malaysia’s services industry, and more, detailed below.
Please find below the country updates:
- Thailand: 4 more categories of foreigners allowed entry from today
- Singapore: Certain incoming travellers to don electronic monitoring device during SHN
- Malaysia: New grant to support SMEs in going digital
- Indonesia: Government boosts support for MSMEs via cash transfers and working capital loans
Thailand: 4 more categories of foreigners allowed entry from 4 August
Effective today (4 August), four more categories of foreigners will be allowed entry into Thailand, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand announced yesterday (3 August).
Overall, 15 categories of foreigners will now be allowed entry while the nation’s State of Emergency is ongoing (until 31 August), with 11 previously announced in July, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
These 15 categories of foreigners are (newest on top):
#1 Foreigners with a residential permit in the nation, including their spouse and children. (From 4 August onwards)
#2 Non-Thai nationals who hold a work permit, or have been granted permission to work in the nation under the law, as well as their spouse and children. (From 4 August onwards)
#3 Foreign workers with special permission to work in the nation, and are licensed by the government to temporarily stay and work here. (From 4 August onwards)
#4 Non-Thai nationals permitted to enter the nation under a special arrangement between the Thai government and foreign countries, or individuals/groups approved by the Prime Minister. (From 4 August onwards)
#5 Thai Nationals
#6 Persons with exemption or persons being considered, permitted, or invited by the Prime Minister, or the head of responsible persons accountable for resolving state of emergency issues. Such consideration, permission or invitation may be subject to specific conditions and time limits.
#7 Persons on diplomatic or consular missions, or under international organisations; representatives of foreign governments performing their duties; persons of other international agencies as permitted by the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs pertaining to necessity, including their spouse, parents, or children.
#8 Carriers of necessary goods, subject to immediate return after completion.
#9 Crew members who are required to travel into the nation on a mission, and have a specified date and time for return.
#10 Non-Thai nationals who are spouses, parents, or children of a Thai national.
#11 Non-Thai nationals holding a valid certificate of permanent residency in the nation, or permission to take up residence in the Kingdom.
#12 Non-Thai nationals with a work permit, or who have been granted permission from government agencies to work in the nation, including their spouse or children.
#13 Non-Thai nationals who are students of educational institutions approved by Thai authorities, including the student’s parents or guardians, except students of non-formal educational institutions.
#14 Non-Thai nationals who require medical treatment in Thailand, and their attendants. This, however, shall not include medical treatment for COVID-19.
#15 Non-Thai nationals who are permitted to enter the nation under a special arrangement with a foreign country.
All entrants into the country are to comply with its disease prevention measures, and undergo a 14-day quarantine at a state-designated site, Nation Thailand reported.
Singapore: Certain incoming travellers to don electronic monitoring device during SHN
Incoming travellers to Singapore who choose to serve their stay-home notice (SHN) outside of dedicated facilities will soon have to don electronic monitoring devices during the 14 days.
The new requirement will take effect from 11:59pm on 10 August 2020, as announced by the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA), Ministry of Manpower (MOM), and Ministry of Education in a joint statement yesterday (3 August), and will apply to Singapore citizens, Singapore Permanent Residents, long-term pass holders, Work Pass holders, and their dependants.
Those aged 12 and below will be exempted from this.
Details on the device usage
On arrival in Singapore, travellers serving their SHN at their place of residence will be issued with the electronic monitoring device at the checkpoints, after immigration clearance. They will need to activate the device upon reaching their place of residence. If the device is not activated as required, the authorities will follow up to determine their location, and assist to resolve any technical difficulties, or take enforcement action, as the case may be.
During the 14 days, notifications may be sent to the device and would need to be acknowledged in a timely manner. Any attempt to leave the place of residence or tamper with the device will trigger an alert to the authorities, who will conduct follow-up investigations, except when the person is leaving his/her place of residence for an appointment for the COVID-19 test.
After serving their SHN, they would need to deactivate the device and dispose of or return it in accordance with the instructions.
The device uses GPS and 4G/Bluetooth signals to determine if persons on SHN are within the range of their place of residence, but does not store any personal data or possess any voice/video recording function. Data transmitted from the devices to the authorities’ backend system, such as the GPS and 4G/Bluetooth signal data, is protected by end-to-end certificate-based encryption.
The statement highlighted that the authorities will abide strictly by public sector data protection rules in managing and protecting personal data collected by the devices.
Only government officials authorised by the respective authorities will be able to access the data for the purpose of monitoring and investigations.
The authorities stressed a reminder for those on SHN to comply with the requirements, as failure to do so would make them liable to prosecution under the Infectious Diseases (COVID-19 – Stay Orders) Regulations 2020.
The penalty may be a fine of up to S$10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to six months. For foreigners, ICA/MOM may take further administrative actions, such as revoking, or shortening the validity of permits and passes to remain/work in Singapore.
Malaysia: New grant to support SMEs in going digital
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Malaysia now have access to more support in their journey to go digital.
The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) recently revealed the #SMART Automation Grant (SAG) as part of the government’s initiative to expand support for SMEs to make the digital leap in this era of unprecedented disruption.
The new grant takes a partnership approach between the government and SMEs. Itis a matching grant whereby successful applicants will invest about 50% of the total project cost while the grant provides for 50% of the total project cost – or up to a maximum grant cap of RM200,000, whichever is lower.
Firms benefitting from the grant must also strictly adhere to the one to three-month project timeline.
Further, the SAG is an outcome-based grant whereby projects must achieve specific digitalisation benefits, such as increased revenue, savings in business costs, reduction in process lifecycle and man-hours.
Businesses that are interested, and confirmed as qualified, can send their applications directly to the MDEC.
Eligibility include, among others, the requirement to be incorporated in Malaysia; has a paid-up capital of RM50,000; and with a minimum of 51% equity held by Malaysian(s).
Businesses in the services sector that qualify include:
- Food and beverages
- Real estate
- Professional and financial services
Upon being qualified by MDEC, the SMEs will be required to present their business case for fast-track approval to an evaluation committee who will provide a decision within 24 hours.
Surina Shukri, CEO, MDEC, said: “The SAG for the services sector is necessary as many SMEs are trying to survive in this disrupted business environment. In fact, most are also looking to do more digitally so they can overcome any potential challenges that may negatively impact their operations and income generation. The introduction of this grant is timely for many as it will give them the support needed to take that digital leap onto the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) era."
Indonesia: Government boosts support for MSMEs via cash transfers and working capital loans
In a bid to boost economic growth amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indonesia government will provide Rp 2.4 million (US$165) for 10 to 12mn MSMEs, as well as working capital loans of Rp 2mn for MSMEs, revealed Budi GunadiSadikin, the head of the national economic recovery task force.
Speaking to reporters during a press briefing attended by Jakarta Post, Budi, who is also the deputy state-owned enterprises (SOEs) minister, said: “We hope this assistance will maintain people’s income and be used as working capital to support their businesses. We will also add working capital loans with low interest for those who have already started businesses.”
He also noted that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has mandated the national economic recovery task force to focus on boosting economic growth, as well as maintaining employment and income levels in the third quarter of 2020 to prevent a recession.
Separately, Finance Minister Sri MulyaniIndrawatirevealed that the government has also guaranteed working capital loans worth Rp 100 trillion for labor-intensive businesses to help businesses survive the pandemic.
The loan guarantee program was expected to boost credit disbursement from banks to businesses.
To be eligible for it, labor-intensive firms are required to:
- Employ at least 300 individuals,
- Prove that their activities have been affected by the pandemic, and
- Have a good track record of paying back loans.
Sri Mulyani said: “We hope the credit guarantee scheme will restore the risk appetite of both banks and firms to help boost economic activity.We will use all of our policy instruments to improve supply and demand.”
Overall, the Indonesian government has allocated Rp 695.2 trillion to strengthen the country’s virus response and boost economic growth, expanding the fiscal deficit to 6.34% of gross domestic product (GDP).
With the outbreak expected to continue affecting the economy next year, the government has also announced that it plans to raise the 2021 state budget deficit to 5.2% of GDP. The change will be proposed to the House of Representatives, which previously agreed to the government’s proposal of a deficit between 4.17% and 4.7% of GDP.