Finance Ministry earmarks B100bn for tourism

Finance Ministry earmarks B100bn for tourism

Measures meant to help ailing operators

The Finance Ministry is preparing to offer 100 billion baht in soft loans as a lifeline to coronavirus-ravaged tourism operators as part of new relief measures that will seek the cabinet's approval by early March.

The soft loans, sponsored by the Government Savings Bank (GSB), will be offered through commercial banks with an interest rate of 3-4%, said a source familiar with the matter who requested anonymity.

Operators who do not need fresh funds will be entitled to other financial assistance, such as debt suspension and interest rate reductions, the source said. The Bank of Thailand will consider easing regulations for commercial banks in return for their aid to customers.

The Finance Ministry is set to propose the new relief package to the cabinet for approval on March 3 to alleviate the adverse impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The cabinet is also expected to approve the Finance Ministry paying compensation to GSB.

Thai Bankers' Association chairman Predee Daochai said recently that commercial banks will ask the central bank for a further easing of requirements for loan-loss provisions in return for aid measures that they have offered to customers affected by the deadly virus outbreak.

"We've discussed what problems tourism operators are suffering," the source said. "A recent meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak found operators requesting financial support, debt suspension and interest rate cuts. The fresh funding will be used to renovate accommodation or for business development."

Such measures will be a part of the soon-to-launched package, which will include training courses conducted by the Tourism and Sports Ministry, to avoid layoffs.

After the assistance measures for tourism are given the green light by the cabinet, the Finance Ministry will later propose the Taste-Shop-Spend scheme's fourth phase to stimulate domestic consumption and travel, and open a new round of registration for state welfare to low-income earners to continuously help grassroots people, the source said.

Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana said earlier that the new aid package would be potent enough to jump-start the economy.

Against the backdrop of the coronavirus, drought and delayed fiscal budget, research houses predict 2020 economic growth of less than 2%.


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