Somkid's message: Be prepared
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Somkid's message: Be prepared

Finance Ministry told to devise backup measures for uncertain 2020

Retailers have promoted discount deals amid the slowing economy.
Retailers have promoted discount deals amid the slowing economy.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak has delegated the Finance Ministry to prepare measures to brace for global economic uncertainties next year.

The global economy's turnaround is unlikely next year, so the country must prepare measures to handle the still-sluggish global economy, he said after a meeting with high-ranking Finance Ministry officials on Friday.

Momentum in the local economy in October showed signs of improvement, driven by domestic consumption, he said.

Thailand's economy had its weakest annual growth rate in four years, expanding just 2.3%, in the second quarter as exports declined amid rising trade tensions between the US and China and a stronger baht. In the first quarter the economy grew 2.8% from a year earlier.

The Finance Ministry's Fiscal Policy Office recently downgraded the Thai economic outlook for this year to 2.8% from 3%, while the Bank of Thailand slashed its growth forecast to 2.8% from 3.3%.

Given that the economy is likely to expand below its growth potential at 3-4%, the government unveiled a 316-billion-baht stimulus package in an effort to boost the country's economic growth to 3% this year after the economy lost momentum, weighed down by sagging exports.

Mr Somkid repeatedly told the Finance Ministry's senior officials to manage tax collection to achieve targets, but he said such moves must not weaken domestic consumption.

He also clarified media reports about five business risks in Thailand as outlined by the World Economic Forum (WEF), saying they are risks over the next 10 years, not now.

The WEF surveyed the opinions of 102 local businessmen about risk of doing business in Thailand in the next decade by choosing from 30 provided risks, he said, and they identified five, including asset bubble, cybersecurity and governance.

"It does not mean that Thailand now is at risk of these issues, but it is an anticipation for the next 10 years," Mr Somkid said.

Thosaporn Sirisamphand, secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Council, said the respondents at the time when the survey was conducted were worried about higher prices of condominiums along electric train stations, but their prices are lower now.

Moreover, the survey was made before the central bank's implementation of the tougher loan-to-value requirements, he said, and a bubble in the real estate sector is not seen now.

Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana estimated that 100 billion baht worth of investment budget will be doled out by state enterprises in the final quarter of this year, providing a buffer for the economy.

The investment budget disbursement rate of 45 state enterprises is expected to be close to the fiscal 2020 target set at 80% of the 360-billion-baht budget.

State enterprises managed to take out 75% of the total investment budget by the end of October.

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