Thailand, ADB hold First Policy Platform Meeting on COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) Program
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Thailand held the first Policy Platform meeting as part of the Thailand: COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) program on 9 August. The meeting was led by Mr. Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, Finance Minister of the Government of Thailand and Asian Development Bank (ADB) Governor, and Mr. Ahmed M. Saeed, Vice-President (Operations 2), ADB.
The objectives of the Policy Platform meeting are to assess and consider adjustments to the Government of Thailand's pandemic response, if needed; foster a broader discussion on the Government’s fiscal response, public health, gender equity, and medium-term measures to support the poor and vulnerable; and discuss post-COVID-19 economic recovery plans.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Saeed delivered brief remarks about the CARES program, which aims to support the Government of Thailand’s pandemic response in three key areas: (i) healthcare services; (ii) cash handouts and financial aid; and (iii) economic rehabilitation. The Government of Thailand began utilizing the CARES Program from January 2021. Through ADB’s CARES Program and the Government of Thailand’s own resources, Mr. Saeed noted that progress is being made in the three areas of focus. He emphasized looking forward to working together with Thailand to help drive more allocation and disbursement of funds on health care services and economic rehabilitation.
The ADB Vice President also discussed ADB’s broader program of engagement in Thailand, and underscored the importance of the following areas of collaboration for Thailand’s social and economic recovery from the impacts of COVID-19: (i) climate change and green recovery; (ii) domestic resource mobilization; and (iii) tourism sector recovery.
“The current COVID-19 crisis can be considered as simply a dress rehearsal for a larger looming climate crisis,” said Mr. Saeed. “We need to assess where our institutions, individually and collectively, have been successful and where we have fallen short, and we will need to take corrective measures as needed.”
On the Tourism sector, an important sector in Thailand’s economy, and a Greater Mekong Subregion sector of focus, he remarked, “Tourism will be back, but the path to 2019 levels and beyond will not be simple or easy”. Much needs to be done to protect the domestic industry, said Mr. Saeed. He shared that ADB has recently established a new hub on domestic resource mobilization issues in Asia – the first of its kind – and ADB looks forward to working with the Government of Thailand.
In closing, he reiterated that ADB stands ready to help Thailand in addressing the challenges caused by COVID-19, and learn from Thailand’s experiences in managing the pandemic.
Read his full speech.