Somkid: Second-half boost for economy

Somkid: Second-half boost for economy

Fiscal 2020 spending tipped for December

A passenger pays a bus fare using a state welfare card. The new finance minister will decide whether to introduce further measures to help low-income earners. PORNPROM SATRABHAYA
A passenger pays a bus fare using a state welfare card. The new finance minister will decide whether to introduce further measures to help low-income earners. PORNPROM SATRABHAYA

Accelerated investment by the new government is expected to shore up the economy and help GDP grow at a faster pace in the latter half of the year, according to Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.

The new administration is expected to start by August, while the fiscal 2020 budget is projected to begin disbursement by December, Mr Somkid said on Wednesday.

The disbursement of investment worth a combined 70-80 billion baht will be delayed from the normal schedule that starts on Oct 1.

The fiscal 2020 budget was set at 3.2 trillion baht, up by 200 billion baht from fiscal 2019, which ends Sept 30, with a projected budget deficit of 450 billion baht, same as in the previous fiscal year.

"The new government is committed to continuing the state welfare card scheme, while the Budget Bureau has already approved 100 billion baht to finance the scheme," Mr Somkid said.

He said the new finance minister will also come up with a decision on measures to help low-income earners.

Mr Somkid said the tourism sector is expected to remain strong, citing a Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) report that the number of foreign visitors in the first half of the year totalled 19.9 million, up 2% year-on-year, generating 1 trillion baht in revenue, up 3%.

Thai travellers were also reported to increase by 5% in the period to 77.5 million trips, with income created up 8% from last year.

The TAT forecasts the tourism sector to generate a total of 3.4 trillion baht this year, up 11.5% from 2018.

Revenue from foreign visitors is projected to contribute 2.2 trillion, up 12%, with that from Thai visitors projected at 1.2 trillion baht, up 10%.

Mr Somkid said foreign investment in Thailand, especially in the Eastern Economic Corridor, will continue to increase with the anticipated influx of foreign investors from China and Japan relocating their production bases.

But the export sector's prospects remain gloomy because of the mounting trade row between the US and China, he said, adding that the likely meeting between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at this week's G20 summit should help ease tensions.

Mr Somkid did not reveal his estimated figures for the second half, but the Fiscal Policy Office (FPO) predicts GDP to grow by 3% in the first half before gathering steam for a 4% rise in the latter half.

The FPO in April slashed its forecast for economic growth to 3.8% from the 4% seen in January and for exports to 3.4% from 4.5%.

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