January tallies 25-month sinkhole
Business sentiment plunged to a 25-month low in January as a fresh wave of infections decimated businesses and daily lives.
The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) said yesterday the TCC Confidence Index, which gauges the sentiment of the business sector and members of the Thai Chamber of Commerce in all provinces nationwide, dropped to 29.8 in January, the lowest since January 2019, from 31.8 in December and 33.7 in November.
Sauwanee Thairungroj, an adviser to the UTCC council, said the main factors were lockdown measures installed in high-risk areas and lingering concerns about a new wave of infections.
According to Ms Sauwanee, business sentiment dropped in all regions, notably in the South, which was ravaged by flooding, and the Northeast, which experienced relatively high household debt and unemployment.
"Business people desperately want the government to contain infections and speed up economic stimulus packages to increase spending and alleviate hardships in the business sector, particularly in tourism," she said.
The measures should help enable entrepreneurs to maintain their employment, said Ms Sauwanee.
Thanavath Phonvichai, the UTCC president, proposed the government introduce vaccine passport measures, allowing travellers who are vaccinated to use a certificate to enter Thailand without a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival.
Such a scheme would raise tourism income and rehabilitate the country's overall economy, said Mr Thanavath.
"The UTCC is monitoring the outcome of the government's stimulus measures, especially the We Win and We Love Each Other schemes that should inject billions of baht into the economic system," he said.
"If they turn out to be effective, the GDP could increase by 1.7-1.9 percentage points, driving the country's GDP growth to 3-3.5% this year."
In a related development, another UTCC survey on spending during Valentine's Day found sentiment to be sluggish.
Spending was estimated to contract by 21.2% this year to 2.56 billion baht, the lowest in 15 years.
Lower spending stems largely from the poor economy, low income, more expensive gifts and product prices, growing concerns about the outbreak and rising debts.