Strong June sentiment on growth signs
Thai business confidence improved in June, boosted by the government's economic stimulus measures, a weaker baht, which is good for tourism and exports, growing border trade and recovering farm prices.
The Thai Chamber of Commerce's new index, which gauges nationwide business sentiment, increased to 48.4 points in June from 47.7 in May -- the month it debuted.
The TCC Confidence index from May 25-June 5 sampled 324 TCC members nationwide, with 66.5% from the agriculture sector, 15.8% from the industrial sector, 9.7% traders and 8% from the service sector.
Kalin Sarasin, chairman of the chamber, said a higher rating in June implies a better economic recovery in each region, adding that regions engaged in tourism and/or fruit exports particularly boasted export outstanding economic growth.
Those regions were Greater Bangkok and the East.
"Based on the TCC Confidence Index, which rose nearly 50 points in June, the Thai economy has started its recovery with broader income distribution," said Mr Kalin. "A clearer picture is expected to appear in the fourth quarter."
But Mr Kalin said the business sector is still waiting for new measures to tackle income inequality and low farm prices, the main cause for weak consumption in regional areas.
The government should thus speed up investment and spending, in line with infrastructure construction, to prod regional growth, he said.
Regional businesses are also less competitive, so they need greater and easier credit access to increase their liquidity and expand.
"Five regional chambers of commerce are scheduled this week to propose their top 10 priority infrastructure investment projects for Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith's consideration, in a move to spur local economic development this half," said Mr Kalin.
"There are many projects that could be implemented immediately at a relatively low cost with a lot of benefits, such as the eastern seaside road repair project at Rayong, which will not only facilitate transport and tourism, but also link to U-tapao airport, along with the construction of second airports in Chiang Mai and Phuket."
Earlier in June, Mr Kalin said the TCC would propose 50-60 inter-provincial infrastructure projects worth several billion baht to spur local economic development this half.
The proposed projects cover inter-provincial roads, airports, ports and a rail network.
The provincial chambers of commerce in the Northeast, for example, have proposed a tourism route and infrastructure developments along the Mekong River, which covers Nong Khai, Loei, Bung Kan, Ubon Ratchathani, Nakhon Phanom, Mukdahan and Amnat Charoen.