Index sees gains in August
Consumer sentiment up for fourth month
Consumer sentiment rose for a fourth straight month in August, boosted by the continued easing of coronavirus curbs, state relief programmes, the Bank of Thailand's decision to keep its policy rate unchanged and lower diesel prices.
The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) reported on Wednesday the consumer confidence index rose to 51 in August from 50.1 in July, 49.2 in June, 48.2 in May and 47.2 in April.
Thanavath Phonvichai, president of the UTCC, said the fourth straight uptick shows most consumers feel the economy bottomed out in the second quarter.
Sentiment is likely to continue improving if there is not a second wave of infections, he said.
Mr Thanavath said despite better consumer sentiment, overall confidence is still lower than pre-pandemic levels and consumers remain worried about their future income, the economy and employment prospects.
"The government's continued easing of coronavirus restrictions help raise the economic recovery outlook," he said.
"The government's economic rehabilitation and stimulus measures and a clearer sign about a constitutional amendment also provided a boost."
Mr Thanavath said although political rallies continue to be held, violence is unlikely, causing political confidence to improve for the first time in 18 months.
The cabinet on Tuesday approved a bill to pave the way for national referendums on the rewrite of the charter proposed by the Election Commission (EC).
The EC explained to the cabinet that at least two referendums are required: one on the amendment of the charter change process to set up a charter-drafting body, and another on the new charter.
In a related development, Mr Thanavath said the government's proposed 45-billion-baht cash handout to 15 million people to stimulate consumer spending is estimated to generate up to 90 billion baht worth of spending and spur the economy in the fourth quarter by 1-1.5 percentage points.
Under the proposed measure, the government will give 3,000-baht cash handouts to individuals to buy consumer goods.
Daily spending will be capped at 100-250 baht per person per day, with the government subsidising 50% of their outlay.
People are required to first register online and the money will subsequently be transferred through the Pao Tang app's G-wallet.
Mr Thanavath said with myriad state aid measures the economy is likely to see a contraction of 6.5-8.5% this year, improving from the earlier projected 8-10% contraction.