New centre to rehabilitate economy
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New centre to rehabilitate economy

22-committee body to be chaired by PM

The cabinet yesterday gave the green light to establish a centre to handle the country's economic rehabilitation from the coronavirus crisis.

The economic situation administration centre, tasked with working in the same manner as the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, will be chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The centre will comprise 22 committees with representation from all economic ministers, the Interior and Labour ministries, the Bank of Thailand's governor and the heads of three private-sector organisations.

The secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Council will be the centre's secretary.

"The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on almost all sectors, not only exports and tourism, the two major contributors to the economy, but also domestic employment and small and medium-sized enterprises," Gen Prayut said. "Even worse, foreign visitors to Thailand this year may plunge to only 2-3 million from 40 million in the previous year."

Deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek said the centre will take charge of proposing economic solutions to tackle economic problems and supervise the government's economic rehabilitation efforts.

The cabinet also approved setting up a committee to drive economic management. This panel will be chaired by Pailin Chuchotthaworn, an adviser to Gen Prayut and former deputy transport minister.

The cabinet also signed off on three projects worth 1.11 billion baht under the 400-billion-baht budget the government set aside for economic and social rehabilitation.

The cabinet approved a further 11.8 billion baht from the central budget to handle drought and flood problems in the medium and long terms.

In April, the cabinet approved a royal decree to borrow 1 trillion baht, of which 600 billion baht will go towards financial aid and health-related plans for those whose jobs and businesses have been upended during the outbreak, with 400 billion baht for economic and social rehabilitation through projects aimed at creating jobs, strengthening communities and building infrastructure.

Of the 600-billion-baht allocation, 550 billion baht is to fund the cash handout for virus-ravaged people, with the remainder for health expenditure.

Kalin Sarasin, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the private sector is set to propose urgent measures covering economic stimulus, income disparity reduction, unemployment curbs, domestic tourism stimulus and SME aid measures at the first meeting of the economic situation administration centre scheduled for next Wednesday.

Thanavath Phonvichai, president of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said efforts to revive the economy will face an uphill climb as long as the coronavirus keeps spreading and no vaccine is available.

More importantly, simmering political rallies have compounded the government's struggles to rehabilitate the economy, Mr Thanavath said.

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