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BOT predicts 5.3% contraction in Thai economy for 2020

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BOT predicts 5.3% contraction in Thai economy for 2020 | The Thaiger
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Even the Thai economy, which was still maintaining respectable growth before January, is now spluttering under the siege of the Covid-19 virus.

Now the Bank of Thailand has crunched some numbers and believes the Thai economy will sharply contract by 5.3% this year as the virus continues to weigh on global financial markets, the local economy and people. GDP growth for 2019 stood at a low 2.4%.

The BOT Monetary Policy Committee speculates that the Thai economy will contract 5.3% for 2020 before hopefully rebounding with 3% growth next year.

Don Nakornthab, senior director at Bank of Thailand’s economic & policy department, says the Banks’s Monetary Policy Committee has voted to maintain benchmark rate at 0.75%.

“The coronavirus outbreak has been impacting Thai tourism and exports to a large extent. The number of tourist arrivals was expected to contract by 60% this year while the economies of our trading partners would slow down or enter into recession if the Covid-19 pandemic persists for a prolonged period.”

“Government stimulus packages, businesses and people’s adaptations to the situation hold the key to the direction of the local economy.”

SOURCE: The Nation

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Economy

BTS skytrain maximum fare rate increasing to 158 baht despite backlash

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BTS skytrain maximum fare rate increasing to 158 baht despite backlash | The Thaiger

Bangkok’s BTS skytrain maximum fare rate is being raised to 158 baht despite receiving backlash over the hike. The Transport Ministry is behind the calls for City Hall to stop the increase as it says it is too expensive for the average commuter who takes the BTS 2 times a day. Saksayam Chidchob, the Transport Minister, says other routes should be explored before increasing the costs for commuters.

“The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration should halt its policy on new BTS maximum fare and wait for other authorities to find proper solutions.”

The BMA and Transport Ministry were jointly appointed to set the fare’s ceiling in 2018, but it appears the BMA is now taking control of the new price hike. The BMA and Interior Ministry were previously responsible for granting concessions for the skytrain’s operation but the Transport Ministry is also part of the reviewing committee for extending the concessions and overall investments in the country’s mass transit system.

But deals are being made by the BMA that appear to ignore the Transport Ministry’s equal role in making decisions and the ministry says such actions are breaching co-investment laws. It isn’t the first time the BMA has made decisions without the Transport Ministry’s joint approval.

Before the new hike in fares, it previously extended concessions to the current Bangkok Mass Transit System in order to keep the fare ceiling at 65 baht. Now, making a new deal that would see passengers paying more than double in total fares across the skytrain system is being seen as pushing the envelope.

What is not clear is why the fares are being hiked when the country is suffering economically due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Even though the new maximum is set to rollout on February 16, Bangkok’s governor has offered to bring the new maximum down to 104 for a short period of time in consideration of the recent Covid outbreak.

But even increasing the fare to 104 baht is being widely opposed. The secretary-general of the Association for the Protection of the Thai Constitution says even the discounted rate is too expensive for daily commuters. And, the date for the discount ending has not been announced.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Economy

Government considering another registration round for co-payment scheme

Maya Taylor

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Government considering another registration round for co-payment scheme | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

The Finance Ministery is considering adding another registration round to the Khon La Khrueng (“Let’s Go Halves”) co-payment scheme, as 1.34 million rights have not yet been taken up. The government introduced the scheme last October, in an effort to stimulate the Covid-battered economy. Under the scheme, Thai citizens get a 50% subsidy on the purchase of food, drink and general products, up to 150 baht per person per day, to a maximum of 3,000 baht for the duration of the scheme. Those who sign up need to make purchases within 14 days of their registration.

The first phase got under way on October 23 and finished on December 31, with the government setting aside 30 billion baht to cover 10 million people. The second phase began on January 1 and runs until March 31, covering an additional 5 million people. The cap has also been raised from 3,000 to 3,500 baht.

Kulaya Tantitemit from the Fiscal Policy Office says that of the combined 15 million rights, 13.66 have been taken up. The Bangkok Post reports that those who have not received subsidy rights can register for the 1.34 million that remain by the end of this month.

The Finance Ministry is also considering a third phase of the scheme, based on the success of the first 2 phases, according to Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand’s rich not eligible for 3,500 baht government handout

Maya Taylor

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Thailand’s rich not eligible for 3,500 baht government handout | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

Thailand’s Finance Ministry has confirmed that wealthy citizens are not eligible for the government’s monthly cash handout of 3,500 baht. The Rao Chana (“We Win”) scheme consists of 2 monthly payments of 3,500 baht for those struggling with the financial fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic. Those with savings above a certain, unspecified threshold, will not qualify.

The ministry has not specified what this figure might be, in a bid to stop people transferring funds out of their accounts in order to fall below the required threshold. The Rao Chana scheme is aimed at farmers and the self-employed and is similar to the previous Rao Mai Thing Kan (“We Won’t Leave Anyone Behind”) scheme. That scheme consisted of 3 monthly payments of 5,000 baht and also excluded those with savings above a certain amount.

“The government spent 390 billion baht (on Rao Mai Thing Kan), but people still protested in front of the ministry after their applications to receive 5,000 baht remedial payments were rejected. A government official found that 1 protester had more than 10 million baht in his account, which is why he was not eligible.”

Kulaya Tantitemit from the Fiscal Policy Office, says screening under the new scheme will also reject government officials, employees in state enterprises, and people already in the social security net. The eligibility criteria are expected to be submitted for Cabinet approval soon, with registration for the scheme opening at the end of January and first payments made in early February.

“We want to help low-income people affected by Covid-19, so those outside the social security system such as freelancers or farmers will be eligible. But anyone with a high income will be disqualified.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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