Somkid downplays rate role in boosting growth

Somkid downplays rate role in boosting growth

Confidence is better spur, deputy PM says

An advertising board promotes zero-interest loans at a money expo. The Bank of Thailand's rate-setting panel will meet next Wednesday to make its monetary policy decision. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)
An advertising board promotes zero-interest loans at a money expo. The Bank of Thailand's rate-setting panel will meet next Wednesday to make its monetary policy decision. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)

Interest rates are less important than confidence as a mechanism for propping up economic growth, says Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.

Amid a gloomy global economy, Thailand needs to build confidence above all, Mr Somkid said, adding that tepid investment is contributing to the firmer baht, so it's necessary to ramp up investment to bolster the Thai economy and create a future path.

His comments came after the US Federal Reserve slashed its benchmark rate by 25 basis points.

The Bank of Thailand's rate-setting panel is scheduled to meet next Wednesday to make its own monetary policy decision.

Lavaron Sangsnit, director-general of the Fiscal Policy Office (FPO), said the US central bank's rate reduction was not beyond expectations and further monetary policy easing is likely later this year.

The Monetary Policy Committee will take into account the Fed's move and the prevailing economic headwinds when making its rate decision, Mr Lavaron said.

The Finance Ministry is most concerned about impacts on the export sector, he said.

The baht should appreciate at the same pace as neighbouring countries' currencies, Mr Lavaron said, as gaining at a faster clip will take a toll on exports.

The baht is the best-performing currency in Asia this year, up about 6.5% against the US dollar.

On spiking global oil prices, Mr Lavaron said the situation is apt to be short-lived and the Thai inflation rate remains at the lower end of the targeted range.

Theeraj Athanavanich, a bond market adviser to the Public Debt Management Office (PDMO), said demand for the government's long-dated bonds is waning as investors pour more money into shorter-term notes after most central banks shifted gears to ease monetary policy and combat slower growth.

Amid the downward trend in interest rates, investors are allocating more money to mid- and short-term bonds, Mr Theeraj said.

Despite fading demand for the government's long-dated notes, the PDMO aims to lengthen the average maturity of state bonds to 14-15 years from 12 years, he said without providing a time frame.

The PDMO recently issued the government's longest-ever bond of 50 years.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana said he hopes for a better ranking in the ease of doing business from the World Bank in 2020, as Thailand has made great strides in improving many issues in line with the global lender's suggestions.

The World Bank is due to announce the report on Oct 30.

In 2019, Thailand ranked 27th out of 190 countries in global ease of doing business, putting it third in Asean after Singapore and Malaysia.


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