State pins hopes on Q4 stimulus hike

State pins hopes on Q4 stimulus hike

The government is hopeful myriad stimulus measures including the Taste, Shop, Spend scheme, farm crop price guarantee programme, agricultural support, and tourism stimulus incentives will help shore up economic growth in the fourth quarter to reach 3%.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Monday while delivering policy guidelines to 1,600 participants from the public sector handling 2021 fiscal budget planning, the state-initiated stimulus measures would play an important role in lifting the economy in the fourth quarter to 3% growth and over 2.6% for the full year.

The government's planning unit, the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC), reported to economic ministers fourth-quarter growth of 2.8% would be sufficient to ensure full-year growth of 2.6% as predicted by the agency.

"The government's stimulus measures have already started affecting the economy in the third quarter, and we expect the positive effect will keep up its momentum in the fourth quarter," said Gen Prayut.

The NESDC reported last month the economy grew 2.4% year-on-year in the third quarter, driven mainly by increases in private and government consumption and investment, slightly improving from 2.3% year-on-year in the second quarter but lower than 2.8% in the first quarter.

The slowdown in economic growth in the third quarter prompted the NESDC to cut its 2019 GDP forecast again to 2.6% from an earlier projection of 2.7%-3.2%.

The NESDC projects the economy will grow by 2.7% to 3.7% next year, boosted by private and government investment as well as improved exports and tourism.

Gen Prayut admitted the economy still faces a spate of external challenges, be it the global economic slowdown, unabated trade war, or Brexit concerns.

"Amid the uncertain situation, government expenditure plays a significant role in contributing to the economy next year," he said, urging state agencies to speed up budget disbursement in fiscal 2020.

The fiscal 2020 budget, worth 3.2 trillion baht, passed the first of three readings on Oct 19 in the House of Representatives after three days of intense debate.

The 2020 fiscal year began on Oct 1, but the second and third readings of the budget bill will not be held until Jan 8 and 9. The second reading will discuss the bill by section and the third will determine whether the bill will be passed in its entirety.

If the bill is turned down in the third reading, it will be scrapped and according to tradition, the government must respond by resigning and dissolving the House.

However, Kobsak Pootrakool, the Prime Minister's Office Minister, said recently the fiscal 2020 budget bill is expected to receive parliamentary approval early next year as the coalition government has sufficient votes from lawmakers to pass the bill.


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