TBA to seek measures for sector hit by virus

TBA to seek measures for sector hit by virus

The Thai Bankers' Association (TBA) has planned a meeting for on Wednesday to seek additional measures for tourism and related business operators battered by the coronavirus epidemic.

The association, which comprises 15 commercial banks, is considering using both proactive and assistance measures to ease the financial burden of business operators hit by the virus outbreak to help them get through the difficult situation and prevent layoffs, said Predee Daochai, the TBA chairman.

"The number of foreign tourist arrivals has declined significantly, and this adversely affects tourism and related businesses," he said. "Bank members will sort out additional measures to help them survive."

Each bank earlier launched relief measures for customers affected by the coronavirus epidemic and the economic slowdown as requested by the Bank of Thailand. Such measures include debt rescheduling, offering grace periods for loan principal and interest and providing additional credit lines.

Tourism is bearing the brunt of the outbreak, as Chinese are Thailand's biggest foreign market. Foreign tourist receipts made up 11.1% of GDP in 2019.

Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob said the Bank of Thailand is reviewing the economic outlook in the wake of the virus outbreak, while the government is monitoring the situation and is set to launch measures to alleviate the impact.

"Such measures would help both business operators and employees, as well as the overall economy," Mr Veerathai said. "The Monetary Policy Committee is scheduled to hold a meeting on March 25, at which the economic outlook review for this year is set to be released."

The central bank in December slashed its forecast for 2020 economic growth to 2.8% from 3.3% seen earlier.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said recently that the government was ready to throw a lifeline to tourism operators ravaged by the coronavirus fallout.

Mr Veerathai said passage of the months-delayed annual budget for fiscal 2020 is a positive sign that can boost the country's economic momentum.

In another development, the Bank of Thailand has cooperated with the National Bank of Cambodia to implement interoperability QR code payment between both countries.

The cross-border digital payment will be made through a collaboration between Siam Commercial Bank and Acleda Bank, Cambodia Commercial Bank and the Foreign Trade Bank of Cambodia.

Cambodian visitors can use the QR code digital payment service in Thailand, while the service will be available for Thai travellers in July.

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