Arkhom asks state banks to continue aid

Arkhom asks state banks to continue aid

Minister says SMEs should be protected

People queue in front of the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives' Samut Prakan branch. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)
People queue in front of the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives' Samut Prakan branch. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

The Finance Ministry has instructed state financial institutions to continue providing financial assistance to customers, including those classified as non-performing loan (NPLs), until the economy has fully recovered.

Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said he asked state-owned banks, especially the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, to maintain financial relief schemes for small and medium-sized enterprises and individuals in 2022.

The ministry is concerned NPLs could rise after the expiration of some of the Bank of Thailand's debt relief measures in 2021, he said.

Mr Arkhom said state banks should not leave customers behind, including those listed as NPLs, as support is needed for them to resume business operations after a full economic recovery.

Earlier central bank governor Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput said Thailand's economy could return to levels logged before the pandemic in the first quarter of 2023.

The recovery would be slow and uneven across business sectors, said Mr Sethaput.

In December 2021, Siam Commercial Bank Economic Intelligence Center projected the economy would return to 2019 levels by mid-2023.

The ministry projects economic growth of 1% in 2021 and 4% in 2022.

Mr Arkhom said the economy still faces oil price uncertainty, but he believes this is a short-term issue. He said the state Oil Fund could handle oil price volatility.

In 2022, the government is focused on supporting the local economy, including seeking markets for community products such as those made from rice, said Mr Arkhom. One method is to promote them at department stores, he said.

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