Candidates for central bank chief shortlisted

Candidates for central bank chief shortlisted

PM's adviser Sethaput seen leading race

A screening committee has selected two finalists to head its central bank as the country grapples with its worst economic crisis ever.

The new governor will face a tough task of reviving an economy which the Bank of Thailand predicts will shrink by a record 8.1% this year, and with policy rates near zero and high household debt.

Rangson Sriworasat, head of the selection committee, did not name the selected candidates but told reporters one was an "insider", referring to a central banker, and the other an "outsider", or a non-central banker.

Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob's five-year term ends in September and Deputy Finance Minister Santi Promphat will now choose one of the two candidates to replace him.

Mr Santi is running the ministry after Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana resigned last week.

According to media reports, Sethaput Suthiwart-Narueput, a former World Bank economist and an economic adviser to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is leading the race to be governor.

Mr Sethaput sits on the central bank's Monetary Policy Committee and holds a PhD in economics from Yale University.

Deputy central bank governor Mathee Supapongse is also expected to be on the shortlist. He has worked at the Bank of Thailand for more than three decades and is in charge of supervising monetary stability and is also a Monetary Policy Committee member.

Another deputy central bank governor, Ronadol Numnonda, and Anusorn Tamajai, head of the economic research centre of Rangsit University, also presented their visions on Tuesday. Two others did not appear for the final round of interviews.

The appointment also needs cabinet and royal approval.

"Finally, the prime minister will decide who will be the new central bank governor as the cabinet will have to approve it," Mr Rangson said after interviewing four candidates.

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