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Thailand’s economic forecast among Asia’s worst: central bank governor to step down

Jack Burton

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PHOTO: Bank of Thailand Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob - Chiang Rai Times

The governor of the Bank of Thailand will step down when his term ends in September. Veerathai Santiprabhob announced yesterday that he has decided against seeking a second 5 year term for “family reasons.” His departure comes as Thailand sees its economy contracting as much as 6% this year, mostly as a result of the impacts of lockdown provisions to protect citizens from the coronavirus, including closing the borders. Thailand’s economy is among the worst in Asia as Covid-19 has shattered its vital tourist sector.

Last week, the head of the BoT’s selection committee said said the application period for the next chief will run for 15 business days, from today to June 16, and the shortlist of candidates will be announced by July 2. The committee will meet on June 18 to compile the list of applicants, who will each present their vision for the central bank in late June. The candidates will not be announced until the selection process is finished, and if there is only one, or no candidates, the application period will be extended.

With the bleak economic outlook due to the the Covid-19 pandemic, the next BoT governor will face a challenging task.

Thailand’s gross domestic product is expected to shrink 5%-6% in 2020, according to the National Economic and Social Development Council. Yesterday’s estimate is “based on a limited outbreak in the second quarter,” a spokesman told journalists, adding that “the situation is still hard to predict.”

The new projection follows data showing GDP shrank 1.8% in the first quarter from a year ago, the first contraction since 2014. That was lower than the median estimate for a decline of 3.9% in a Bloomberg survey of economists and compares with revised growth of 1.5% in the fourth quarter.

Thailand relies heavily on tourism and trade, both of which have taken a severe blow as countries around the world imposed restrictions to contain the virus. Official data show a 74.6% plunge in tourist arrivals in March compared to last year.

“We don’t really see the full impact in this quarter yet. The worst is coming in the second quarter, and most of the population will be affected.”

SOURCES: Chiang Rai Times

 

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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