Ministry eager to soothe oil misery

Ministry eager to soothe oil misery

State mulls using emergency loan funds to ease impact

Trucks protest along Vibhavadi Rangsit Road on Tuesday, urging action over high fuel prices. They have given the government seven days to act or face further protests.
Trucks protest along Vibhavadi Rangsit Road on Tuesday, urging action over high fuel prices. They have given the government seven days to act or face further protests.

The Finance Ministry is considering using the remaining funds from the 500 billion baht in borrowing under the second emergency loan decree to ease the impact of high oil prices on the cost of living, says Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith.

He said the ministry mulled several options in terms of financial sources to help ease the impact.

In addition to the annual government budget, some money remains from the emergency loan decree.

Mr Arkhom said the ministry needs to weigh the legal concerns on whether the government can spend such funds to ease the burden of high oil prices.

A ministry source who requested anonymity said the emergency loan decree has more than 100 billion baht remaining after being used to finance stimulus measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the economy.

The government's policy is to maintain the diesel price below 30 baht per litre. It has used the Oil Fund to stabilise the domestic oil price.

The cabinet recently approved the Oil Fund borrowing an additional 20 billion baht to stabilise the diesel price.

Regarding the government cutting the diesel excise tax to reduce the diesel price, Mr Arkhom said the Energy Ministry is considering a package of measures to deal with the impact of the high oil price.

In a separate matter, he said the Office of the Insurance Commission (OIC) conducted a stress test on the insurance industry and found companies have adequate capital reserves and the capacity to handle Covid-19 policy claims.

The OIC previously vowed to tighten its supervision to restore public confidence in the non-life insurance industry, which has been tested by mounting lump-sum claims for Covid insurance, threatening to bankrupt many local non-life insurers.

Mr Arkhom said insurance companies should adjust their operations and products to align with the new environment where consumers depend on digital technologies to support working from home and their lifestyles.

He said climate change is causing more extreme natural disasters and Thailand's demographics are ageing, expressed by both a declining number of newborns and a shrinking labour force.

The business sector needs to deploy more machinery to solve the labour shortage, said Mr Arkhom.

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