Broader growth detected
Consumer sentiment hits 62-month high
Consumer sentiment rose to its highest level in 62 months in July, boosted by broader-based economic growth.
According to the latest survey by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC), the consumer confidence index in July rose to 82.2 from 81.3 in June and 80.1 in May.
"Consumer sentiment has improved in all facets, including overall confidence in the economy, job opportunities and future income," said Thanavath Phonvichai, vice-president for research at the UTCC. "Consumers have started to feel that income in their wallets has increased on a gradual basis, as indicated by the active shopping spree during the recent long holidays."
According to Mr Thanavath, the higher confidence reading for a second straight month in July also signalled that economic growth has become broader-based.
Given the positive prospects, he said Thai GDP growth could reach 4.5-5% this year.
The UTCC is scheduled to revise up its economic growth forecast next week.
"Based on myriad positive signs, including higher consumer confidence, growing exports and strong tourism, we believe Thai economic growth this year could possibly hit as high as 5%," Mr Thanavath said. "And if the government succeeds in speeding up budget disbursement and luring hefty investment in its flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) as planned, Thai economic growth of 5-7% is viable."
The government expects the EEC to boost private investment to a 10-year high in 2019, catalysed by investment in infrastructure and 10 targeted industries.
Private investment is anticipated to rise 10% in 2019, given a GDP growth projection of 5%, Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the EEC Office, said on Wednesday at the Bangkok Post Forum.
The EEC is a key factor expected to drive Thailand's economic growth, following on from the Eastern Seaboard as a centre for export-oriented industries.
Private investment grew by 3.4% in this year's first quarter, while investment has recorded continuous expansion for three years, Mr Kanit said, citing data from the National Economic and Social Development Board.
The government expects real investment in the EEC next year through public infrastructure projects and investment from the private sector in the 10 targeted industries under the S-curve scheme.
Officials have voiced confidence that public infrastructure projects such as the Laem Chabang deep-sea port, the Map Ta Phut deep-sea port and the maintenance, repair and overhaul hub at U-tapao airport will be launched this year, according to Mr Kanit.
The EEC is tipped to garner investment worth more than 1.7 trillion baht over a five-year period (2017-21).
Nonetheless, Mr Thanavath expressed concern about 5G wireless broadband development, citing a delay of 6-12 months from the original development plan that could weaken competitiveness.