Fiscal discipline board to mull debt ceiling

Fiscal discipline board to mull debt ceiling

The government's committee in charge of fiscal discipline has scheduled a meeting to draw up a five-year public debt management plan, says Patricia Mongkhonvanit, director-general of the Public Debt Management Office (PDMO).

The plan forms the backbone for the country to borrow for economic development.

Mrs Patricia said the committee can consider raising the debt-to-GDP ratio ceiling beyond the current 60% if it finds such a move necessary for certain economic situations.

She said the government is not only focused on the current economic situation, but also those that may arise over the next few years.

If the country needs to borrow more and it will raise the public debt-to-GDP ratio beyond the ceiling, the government can raise the ceiling to accommodate the borrowing, said Mrs Patricia.

As of the end of July, the debt-to-GDP ratio stood at 55.6%. It is expected to surge to 58% by the end of fiscal 2021 on Sept 30.

Last year the government issued an emergency loan decree to allow it to borrow 1 trillion baht to prop up the flagging economy. A second decree was issued this year to borrow another 500 billion baht for the same purpose.

The cabinet recently approved spending 123 billion baht via the second decree, of which 14 billion is for public health projects, with the rest for relief measures to help affected people.

PDMO already borrowed 65 billion baht of the 123 billion to fund the public health projects and relief measures, of which 34.2 billion has been disbursed.

Kulaya Tantitemit, director-general of the Fiscal Policy Office, said the government collected net revenue of 1.917 trillion baht during the first 10 months of fiscal 2021, short of the 10-month target by 216 billion baht. The shortfall was attributed to a weaker economy and tax measures to help people with the cost of living.

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