Consumer mood brightens

Consumer mood brightens

Government help stokes confidence

Consumer sentiment recovered in October after falling for the first time in five months in September when concerns over political instability, a slow economic recovery and higher unemployment as a result of the pandemic were at their highest.

The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) reported on Thursday the consumer confidence index edged up to 50.9 in October from 50.2 in September, following readings of 51 in August, 50.1 in July, 49.2 in June, 48.2 in May and 47.2 in April.

"A host of government stimulus packages, such as the half-half co-payment programme, the 'We Travel Together' programme, and the 'Shop and Payback' tax rebate scheme, have helped to boost consumer sentiment," said Thanavath Phonvichai, the UTCC president.

"Rising farm prices have also helped."

Mr Thanavath said the government's stimulus packages should help to retain confidence in the economy for the remainder of the year.

He said, however, sentiment is still weighed down by existing negative factors including ongoing political demonstrations, the fear of a second wave of Covid-19, higher costs of living, the strength of the baht, and concerns over the US's suspension of its Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) for 231 Thai products.

The Commerce Ministry estimates this suspension of trade benefits will cause losses of only US$19 million, or 600 million baht.

The GSP, the largest and oldest US trade preference programme, is designed to promote economic development by allowing duty-free entry into the US for 3,500 products from 119 designated beneficiary countries and territories.

According to Mr Thanavath, with Joe Biden's victory in the US presidential election, he expects better export prospects for Thailand and higher fuel prices in the world market.

Kalin Sarasin, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the economic stimulus packages, particularly the co-payment and tax rebate schemes, have been effective in encouraging people to spend.

He urged the government to extend the co-payment scheme to maintain this momentum and aid with the economy's recovery.

Danucha Pichayanan, head of the National Economic and Social Development Council, said on Wednesday Thailand's economy has passed its lowest point.

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