Baht, stability key to recovery

Baht, stability key to recovery

Saha chief says crisis offers opportunities

Boonsithi Chokwatana, chairman, Saha Group. (Photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Boonsithi Chokwatana, chairman, Saha Group. (Photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)

The government needs to manage the local currency to become more competitive and ensure political stability, two key tools to help reboot the virus-hit economy, says Boonsithi Chokwatana, chairman of consumer goods conglomerate Saha Group.

"If the government wants the economy to recover within one year after the pandemic ends, the baht should weaken to 35-36 to the US dollar," he said.

"If it wants the economy to recover within two years or three years, the baht should hit 34 and 31-32, respectively. A weaker baht will help stimulate growth in several sectors and result in better purchasing power for consumers."

Mr Boonsithi said political stability is equally vital, ruling out a cabinet reshuffle because work on reviving the economy or helping Thais affected by the outbreak will discontinue.

"Though the impact from this pandemic is about 10 times that of the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and has a global effect, one positive is it is setting the global economy to zero," he said.

This offers an opportunity for Asia to become an economic leader in place of the US and Western countries if we can tackle the pandemic and rebuild regional economic growth."

"Whether Thailand can become the hub of this region, replacing Singapore, depends on how fast the government can revive the country's economy and garner cooperation from all parties."

According to Mr Boonsithi, another area for continued government focus is IT.

"It is quite fortunate that at the early stages of this government's administration, it highlighted the 4.0 policy centred on high technology," he said.

"The 4.0 policy enabled the Finance Ministry to deliver the 5,000-baht cash handout to help people within a very short period."

Mr Boonsithi, who has worked for Saha Group for 65 years, said Covid-19 is the toughest crisis during his tenure.

"But we still believe we can overcome it because we have learned a good lesson from the Tom Yum Kung crisis. After that crisis, our group invested and expanded business on cash flow rather than on bank loans," he said.

"Nonetheless, one thing we are still worried about is if the conflict between powerful countries turns violent and leads to war. However, even opportunity can be found during war."

Sales of Saha Group are estimated to contract by 10-20% this year because of declining sales of fashion, shoes and bags. However, with a diversity of businesses, the company still expects to fetch a slight profit at the end of this year.

"We don't have any big investments for the long term this year," Mr Boonsithi said.

"We will adjust our business on a day-by-day basis. We want our business to see sustainable growth."

Do you like the content of this article?

Mauritius braces to halt new oil spill as tanker breaks up

PORT LOUIS (MAURITIUS) - Salvage crews raced against time Monday to prevent a second disastrous oil spill off the picture-perfect coastline of Mauritius, with a damaged tanker carrying nearly 2,000 tonnes of fuel at risk of splitting apart.


Ticket refunds for GOT7 fans as new date can't be set

Buyers in Thailand of tickets for the GOT7 concert can get a refund after the band could not set a new date for the show due to Covid-19 restrictions worldwide.

10 Aug 2020

Rival protests raise fears of return to violence

Rival protest groups rallied in and around Bangkok on Monday, raising the political temperature amid almost daily anti-government student protests nationwide and stirring fears of a return to street violence.

10 Aug 2020