State allays unease over Q3 figures

State allays unease over Q3 figures

Cabinet upbeat on year-end performance

The government rushed to calm jitters after a weaker-than-expected GDP growth reading of 2.4% for the third quarter.

The cabinet agreed that growth in the current quarter would outpace the year-earlier 2.8%, underpinned by the Taste-Shop-Spend scheme to boost domestic consumption, said government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat.

State enterprise investment, tourism and government spending will also contribute to the growth, she said.

"Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak told the cabinet that the economy in the fourth quarter would grow by more than 2.8% on the back of the tourism high season, private consumption, government expenditure and state enterprises investment," Mrs Narumon said.

The National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) reported to the cabinet that annual economic growth of 2.8% for the October-to-December quarter would be enough to ensure full-year growth of 2.6% as predicted, she said.

The disappointing economic growth of 2.4% year-on-year for the three months to September prompted the NESDC to trim its 2019 GDP forecast to 2.6% from an earlier view of 2.7-3.2%. The council also predicted that economic growth would pick up to a range of 2.7-3.7% next year.

Mrs Narumon said state enterprises plan to spend 100 billion baht worth of investment budget in the final two months of this year.

State agencies and state enterprises doled out 3.26 trillion baht in fiscal 2019. Of the total, 2.78 trillion baht was state expenditure, 256 billion baht was carry-over budget, 235 billion baht was state enterprises' investment (excluding PTT Plc) and the rest was off-budget borrowing.

Kobsak Pootrakool, deputy secretary-general to the prime minister for political affairs, said the economic cabinet will consider whether additional measures will be needed for the remainder of the year to boost economic growth.

The economic cabinet is scheduled to meet this Friday and will consider the economic data for this year.

In related news, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered the economic cabinet to extend its remit to various dimensions of the economy, including domestic and overseas investment, tourism, basic infrastructure, investment by government agencies and state-owned enterprises, the grassroots economy, online trading, and measures to accelerate the digital economy.

Speaking at yesterday's cabinet meeting, Gen Prayut said pushing economic growth in the final quarter and maintaining momentum into the first quarter of next year are urgent tasks for the economic cabinet.

The government also must focus on organising training programmes to upgrade worker skills to adapt to fast-changing technology, he said.

Although 1,300 plants laid off employees, 2,800 factories opened between January and Nov 12.

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