Somkid offers GDP sneak preview

Somkid offers GDP sneak preview

Thai economic growth is expected to have exceeded 4.5% in the first half of the year, boosted by myriad positive factors such as higher public and private investment, growing tourism and exports, and recovering domestic consumption, says Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.

Economic growth prospects are nothing to worry about, Mr Somkid said yesterday, as growth is in an upward trend with all cylinders firing.

The National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) is scheduled to release the country's GDP reading for the second quarter on Aug 20.

In the first half of last year, the economy grew by 3.5% year-on-year from the same period in 2016.

The NESDB reported on May 21 that the economy grew by 4.8% in the first quarter of 2018, the strongest rate in five years, driven by higher consumption and expansion of external demand and public investment.

The first quarter's 4.8% year-on-year GDP growth far outpaced the 4% recorded in the previous quarter.

The NESDB said economic growth in the first quarter reached its highest in five years across nearly all sectors, including household consumption, exports, tourism, and public and private investment.

The robust first-quarter performance prompted the NESDB to raise its GDP growth forecast to 4.2-4.7% this year from 3.6-4.6% in February.

GDP grew by 3.9% in 2017, up from 3.3% in 2016.

Mr Somkid said that given the growing Thai economy, the time is opportune for the country to step up economic restructuring to help narrow income disparity and strengthen competitiveness.

Despite its contribution of just 10% to the country's GDP, the farm sector involves 20 million people or almost one-third of the total population, he said.

The government is thus focused on assistance, particularly for the farm sector, to generate more income and eventually narrow the income gap.

Mr Somkid said the state has implemented short-term measures to help low-income earners, including welfare smartcards, debt repayment extensions and aid measures for farmers.

"Those measures are just temporary, and the farm restructuring in the medium term and long term should be accelerated, while the development of community businesses and community tourism should be promoted more," he said.

The existing 777 agricultural cooperatives should spearhead the farm restructuring, he said, while the government will support technology development and marketing access.

The plan is for the Commerce Ministry to help the 777 cooperatives develop their own websites and e-commerce platform.

The government will also support smart farmers in developing their own businesses, Mr Somkid said, adding that the state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives is ready to provide financial support.

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