Panel jittery over delay in stimulus

Panel jittery over delay in stimulus

Resignations leave projects in doldrums

Kriangkrai Tiannukul, vice chairman of the Federation of Thailand Industries.
Kriangkrai Tiannukul, vice chairman of the Federation of Thailand Industries.

The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) has expressed fresh concern over the delay in disbursement of the 400-billion-baht stimulus package as the government has yet to announce new economic ministers to fill the political vacuum.

The political conflict, which earlier caused key ministers overseeing the national economy to resign, is among the urgent topics scheduled for JSCCIB's meeting tomorrow on the economic outlook for the second half. Thailand faces a slew of challenges, from the impact of Covid-19 to baht appreciation and the unsettled trade war between the US and China.

Kriangkrai Tiannukul, vice-chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), said the federation, a core member of JSCCIB, is worried politics may affect attempts to restore the economy at a time the whole country badly needs help from the government.

Earlier the Prayut Chan-o-cha administration approved the 400-billion-baht economic and social rehabilitation scheme, part of the 1.9-trillion-baht relief package, to soften the economic blow from the viral outbreak.

But without ministers directing projects under the scheme, it is difficult to see the billions in aid translate into action, he said.

"Since the cabinet members left their posts and the government did a reshuffle, many projects have been delayed as officials shifted to neutral gear," Mr Kriangkrai said.

He observed some senior officials dare not sign their names to approve certain projects because they fear they may later be considered inappropriate when new ministers take charge.

The government's initial packages, notably 5,000-baht handouts for informal workers, lasted only for three months and ended in June.

Both businesses and individuals are looking for new measures and how they can help them get through the crisis, said Mr Kriangkrai.

FTI stressed Thailand needs both short-term and mid-term plans to push forward the economy during the Covid-19 pandemic, which continues to spread worldwide at an alarming rate.

The group is concerned certain sectors, such as exports, will not recover as the Thai currency remains strong, putting further pressure on the economy.

The baht's appreciation is mainly attributed to structural factors as foreign investors have begun to see the currency as a safe haven amid global economic uncertainty, causing inflows of capital into the country.

"This is good for investors and the foreign exchange market, but it is not good for the real sector," he said.

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