Somkid reiterates spending splurge
B1tn targeted for fiscal 2020 Q2 alone
The government vows to rev up spending by much as 1 trillion baht in the second quarter of fiscal 2020, in part to boost the country's economic growth.
In his keynote speech at a seminar titled "2020: The Year of Investment/Exit for Thailand" organised by newspaper Matichon, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said accelerated government spending is a vital component to drive the country's economic growth, apart from infrastructure development and promotion of tourism and the service sector.
"Thailand is facing a new bomb: the continuously strong baht," he said. "Previously the country faced two other bombs: the US-China trade war, which dented the country's exports, and slow government spending of the fiscal 2020 budget.
"The government must step up state investment, planned infrastructure developments, tourism promotion and the export sector."
The government also needs to accelerate promoting private investment, the 5G auction process and rural economy development, Mr Somkid said.
The government's spending has been slow because the 3.2-trillion-baht 2020 fiscal budget, which was due to start last October, just received parliamentary approval last week.
The delayed budget approval was mainly because of a holdup in the formation of a government after the March election.
As a result, Mr Somkid said state investment in the fourth quarter of the last calendar year (the first quarter of fiscal 2020) was quite low. Only projects worth about 50 billion baht that were already approved by the previous government were implemented during the fourth quarter of 2019.
The deputy prime minister said the strong baht is a key threat to the country's export sector. He urged private investors to move ahead rapidly with their investments and machinery imports.
"The government is calling on the private sector to speed up its investment decisions and imports to help weaken the baht," Mr Somkid said. "Just calling on the central bank to help rein in the baht doesn't work."
Duangjai Aswachintachit, secretary-general of the Board of Investment, said the agency is consulting the Finance Ministry and the state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives on a new investment package for the Biocircular Green (BCG) Economy, the creative economy and promotion of smart farming and community tourism.
The package will be completed in six months, she said.
Suvit Maesincee, the minister for higher education, science, research and innovation, said the BCG industry is projected to create 20 million jobs and generate 4.4 trillion baht in income, making up 24% of GDP, if Thailand succeeds in promoting the BCG industries over the next five years.
The government has already set up two committees to drive BCG development: the policy committee chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and the management committee chaired by Mr Suvit.