Somkid: More stimulus this month

Somkid: More stimulus this month

Rural poor targeted to bolster GDP

Farmers are expected to benefit from new government stimulus measures to be launched this month. (Bangkok Post photo)
Farmers are expected to benefit from new government stimulus measures to be launched this month. (Bangkok Post photo)

The government plans to launch new stimulus measures this month for the rural poor, hoping to beef up GDP growth to surpass 3% in 2019, says Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.

"We will order the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives [BAAC], the Finance Ministry, the Housing Fund and the Industry Ministry to cooperate on developing new measures for farmers under the Pracha Rat scheme," he said.

"The agencies will start discussions imminently."

Mr Somkid said the agricultural sector is a key economic engine for Thailand, but farmers have limited incomes.

"The Industry Ministry must support farmers through the scheme to increase their efficiency and development of crop products," he said.

The agricultural sector is being promoted as one of 12 targeted industries under the government's S-curve policy.

Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana has repeatedly said the government stands ready to consider additional stimulus measures if necessary to shore up economic growth.

Time is needed for the economy to improve and the government has fully mobilised all avenues, even though the administration is only a month old, he said. The overall economy is not in such bad shape, said Mr Uttama.

The economy grew by 2.3% year-on-year in the second quarter, easing from 2.8% growth in the first quarter. The second-quarter figures marked the slowest pace of GDP expansion since the third quarter of 2014. For the first half of the year, the economy grew by 2.6% year-on-year.

In an attempt to avert subpar growth, the government unveiled a 316-billion-baht stimulus package aimed at boosting GDP to at least 3% this year.

On Monday, Mr Somkid presided over a collaboration with 13 agencies from the public and private sectors to support and promote innovation development for Thai startups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). He said the government will facilitate further investment from startups and SMEs, using both financial and non-financial tools.

The government established startup accelerator InnoSpace Thailand as a joint venture between the public and private sectors, which has raised 515 million baht in capital.

Initiated in January, InnoSpace's many partners include PTT, Siam Cement Group, CP Group, Thai Beverage, Bangkok Bank, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, Bangkok Dusit Medical Services, Siam Commercial Bank, Thai Union, Saha Group and Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank.

Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit said his ministry plans to have discussions with Japan and Israel regarding cooperation under InnoSpace in the near future.

"The government expects to create 300 startups by 2020 through InnoSpace," Mr Suriya said. "An office will be set up in Klong Toey, on a plot owned by the Tobacco Authority of Thailand."

Tevin Vongvanich, InnoSpace's chief adviser, said the accelerator will finalise conditions and details for funding and lending to support potential startups in a few months. Thailand has 1,000 startups, and InnoSpace has a plan to attract all startups to join. Thailand still does not have a startup unicorn, valued at over $1 billion.

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