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“Government stimulus package for Thai economy is unsustainable”

The Thaiger & The Nation

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“Government stimulus package for Thai economy is unsustainable” | The Thaiger
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PHOTO: Wikipedia

Anusorn Tamajai, an economist from Rangsit University, says he expects the proposed package to make little difference and has declared it unsustainable.

The package, which should be approved this week, is worth 370 billion baht and includes cash handouts for farmers and low-income earners, grants for children, incentives for domestic travelers, and tax incentives for small businesses.

It’s hoped to stimulate the economy by 3%, in the wake of domestic uncertainty and the ongoing US-China trade war. Last week, the Finance Minister said the aim of the package was to prevent growth sliding below 3% in 2019.

However, economist Anusorn Tamajai has his doubts.

“Short-term spending as part of populist policies will not help much, as the Thai economy is monopolised by big business.”

He adds that most spending by low-income groups will end up as revenue for large businesses. However, he agrees with the plan to reduce the tax burden for small and medium-sized enterprises, which could lead to more private investment.

The government plans to offer generous tax reductions for those who import machinery to upgrade their production with a five-year depreciation allowance. The state-run Government Savings Bank and Krung Thai Bank will also provide combined soft loans worth about 100 billion baht.

The government also plans to direct a number of other state-run banks to provide soft loans to farmers and lower income groups, which Anusorn warns may not be sustainable as its effectiveness relies on public confidence in the future.

Thai governments often resort to state-run bank lending, quasi-fiscal measures that usually increase the burden for banks but translate into a burden for tax payers later.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Business

No role for Transport Ministry in Thai Airways rehab plan

May Taylor

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No role for Transport Ministry in Thai Airways rehab plan | The Thaiger
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After initially insisting on having a say in the management of the rehabilitation plan for the beleaguered Thai Airways, the Ministry of Transport has conceded that, with its holding in the airline reduced to less than 50%, it no longer has any jurisdiction over what is now a listed public company.

Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senneam says the struggling carrier is no longer a state organisation under its control and administration of the court-approved rehabilitation plan now sits with the Finance Ministry.

Thai PBS World reports that both ministries had clashed over who would oversee the plan as, until filing for bankruptcy protection, the airline was both a listed public company with the Finance Ministry as its largest shareholder, and a state enterprise under the Transport Ministry.

The Transport Ministry had hoped to recommend 4 people as members of a “super board” that would oversee the administration of the airline’s rehabilitation plan, with other members to be nominated by the Finance Ministry.

The jockeying for position of the ‘super board’ has already begun with prominent names publicly putting themselves forward.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Economy

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

Jack Burton

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Thailand’s economic forecast among Asia’s worst: central bank governor to step down | The Thaiger
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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Events

Thai Fruit Golden Month festivals to be held in 8 Chinese cities

Jack Burton

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Thai Fruit Golden Month festivals to be held in 8 Chinese cities | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Chiang Mai CityLife

8 Chinese cities will host Thailand Fruit Golden Months Festivals as local governments there begin easing lockdown measures and travel restrictions. The director-general of the Department of International Trade Promotion made the announcement yesterday, saying the the festivals will promote Thai fruit exports around China.

“The campaign aims to increase the export of durian, mangosteen, longan, mango, rose apple, coconut, pomelo and banana. China will host the festivals from May to July in Shanghai, Qingdao, Nanning, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xian, Xiamen and Kunming.”

“For offline activities, sales booths will be set up at leading department stores in each city. As for online activities, the department and the local authorities will jointly host online business matching from May onwards to invite Chinese retailers to order Thai fruits online to sell in their stores as well as hold promotional campaigns with Chinese mobile applications, like Geso and Hema, to increase sales.”

“The department will also promote Thai fruits in other markets, such as Singapore, Myanmar and Laos in a similar manner once the local governments ease lockdown measures.”

In April, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, China opened 2 border gates in its southern Guangxi province to allow imports of Thai fruits from the Vietnamese side. Chinese are big importers of Thai fruit, especially Thai-grown durian.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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