BoT to slash growth outlook
The fresh wave of Covid-19 infections has the Bank of Thailand likely to slash its economic growth forecast for this year from a previous prediction of 3%.
The central bank is monitoring the impact of the third wave, with a downgrade possible because of the effects of the new outbreak on the country's reopening for foreign tourist arrivals, said Chayawadee Chai-Anan, senior director of the economic and policy department.
"The third wave is more serious than the previous two rounds given the faster virus spread and more infections," she said.
"The central bank has noticed economic activities are declining during the third wave, equal to the levels seen during the second wave, but not yet as bad as during the first round."
The bank wants to monitor the government's economic stimulus measures to determine how effective they will be in supporting recovery after the third round of infections subside, said Ms Chayawadee.
She said the central bank is ready to implement additional measures in accordance with the government's aid packages, especially to help retail borrowers.
The bank recently implemented an amended soft loan scheme and debt restructuring through an asset warehousing programme to help commercial borrowers.
The loan scheme took effect on April 26.
The central bank also reported yesterday the Thai economy gradually improved in March after the second wave of infections subsided. However, the report does not include the impact of the third wave of infections.
According to the Bank of Thailand, private consumption in March expanded by 1.8% year-on-year and 1% from the previous month.
The increase was attributed to an improvement in economic activities after the second wave of the outbreak tapered and the government's stimulus measures took effect.
Ms Chayawadee said Thailand's exports of merchandise, excluding gold, expanded by 15.8% year-on-year in March and 22.1% month-on-month.
The high growth rate was supported by a recovery in trading partners' demand, which also improved exports in many categories, she said.
Foreign tourist arrivals in March tallied only 6,700, a sharp contraction of 99.2% year-on-year, yet the figure represented growth of 21.4% month-on-month from February.
In the first quarter this year, foreign arrivals contracted by 99.7% year-on-year to 20,000.
Foreign tourist arrivals totalled 6.7 million last year, generating revenue of about 330 billion baht, down 83.2% from 2019 when they generated almost 2 trillion.
In a related development, the central bank reported 379 commercial borrowers have applied for a combined 507 million baht, or 1.34 million baht each, under its soft loan scheme.