JAKARTA

The Thai government on Tuesday will plan rescue packages for southern businesses severely affected by the novel coronavirus, local media reported. 

Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said the government would ask airlines to limit price hikes to help stimulate domestic travel in exchange for cheap loans, according to Bangkok Post.

Airline operators had requested the Finance Ministry in August approve a budget of 24 billion Thai baht ($772.6 million) for such loans to help hard-hit businesses resume normal operations. However, the ministry had not responded at that time, the report said.

Termpittayapaisith said the the government would launch more low-interest loan programs to help tourism-related businesses maintain their cash flow.

Meanwhile, Labor Minister Suchart Chomklin said he would request 1.5 billion baht to hire unemployed people in the six coastal provinces, the daily reported.

Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha vowed to speed up efforts to rebuild the tourism sector in the south, especially on the islands of Koh Samui and Phuket.

Chan-o-cha chaired a meeting in Phuket on reviving tourism in the region with cabinet ministers, provincial governors and representatives of the public and private sector, according to the Bangkok Post.

Phuket’s long-term priorities include infrastructure development, a medical tourism project to develop the province as a world-class medical hub and incentives for companies to set up offices there, it added.

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