Public debt forecast to increase to 62% of GDP

Public debt forecast to increase to 62% of GDP

Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith
Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith

Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith has projected Thailand's public debt will rise to 62% of GDP in fiscal 2022 from 59.6% as of December 2021.

He said whether the government can maintain the debt level at 62% depends on if the country posts economic growth of 4% this year.

The National Economic and Social Development Council projects economic growth this year in a range of 3.5-4.5%, driven by rising demand, a recovery in domestic tourism, strong exports and high public investment.

Mr Arkhom's debt projection assumes the government fully borrows 500 billion baht under the second emergency loan decree and fully borrows another 700 billion in fiscal 2022 to offset the budget deficit.

Over the past year the cabinet approved borrowing of around 400 billion baht out of the 500 billion in the second emergency loan decree.

The debt level will decline below 62% in fiscal 2023 if that year's economic growth exceeds 4%, he said.

Public debt rose to 9.64 trillion baht or 59.6% of GDP as of December 2021 from 6.9 trillion baht or 41.0% of GDP in 2019. This is a result of government borrowing under the two emergency loan decrees, which were initiated the last two years to allow it to borrow a total of 1.5 trillion baht to alleviate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last year the government raised the public debt ceiling to 70% of GDP from the previous level of 60% to accommodate further borrowing in the future.

Mr Arkhom said this year exports are still the key economic engine for expansion, but shipment growth might not reach the same rate as last year. He said on Wednesday the government is focusing on seven missions in 2022 to ensure economic growth of 4%, ranging from development of the Eastern Economic Corridor to promotion of the digital economy.

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