Thailand's economy: Where is it going?

Thailand's economy: Where is it going?

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announced his government's two-year 'success' last week at Government house. (Photo by Thiti Wannamontha)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announced his government's two-year 'success' last week at Government house. (Photo by Thiti Wannamontha)

Growth up a little but average household suffering economically. Political stability & renewed investment key to future growth & prosperity.


Thailand's economy: Where is it going?

Wichit Chantanusornsiri

The Prayut Chan-o-cha government has been leading the country for more than two years now.

The government has managed to lift the country out of the economic stagnation that existed before the 2014 coup, but it has failed to accelerate growth.


Many people blame the weak global economy for sluggish Thai economic growth.

In 2014, economic expansion stood at only 0.8%.

One year after the Prayut government took control, growth remained low at 2.8%.

This year it is predicted to be around 3%.

Thailand's export sector, the key driver of the economy, has suffered in the recent global economic downturn and is predicted to contract 1.9% this year.


The positive effects of the economic rebound have not been felt by most people.

For now, people with low and medium incomes continue to bear the brunt of the sluggish economy.

They have less money to spend and household debts have grown larger.

Several key industries such as automobiles, advertising, print and broadcast media have continued to shut parts of their operations and lay off employees, mainly through early retirement programmes.

Unemployment has been the outcome for many.

The average Thai today still suffers economically.

Even though the inflation rate stands at a fairly low rate, the cost of living remains high, as do bank loan interest rates.


In the current gloomy political climate, the government is facing a test of whether it can accelerate investments and avoid a period of renewed political instability.

The much-needed economic rebound will likely depend on domestic political stability, which is needed to shore up investor sentiment and provide a foundation for public and private investment.

Politics, however, is in a state of flux. As a key determinant of the country's economic growth, it is still unclear what a new democracy under the new charter will look like.

The next election is drawing closer, and with it the prospect of political turbulence as a result of the regime's move to seek compensation from previous state officials, the companies and politicians involved in the loss - ridden rice-pledging scheme run by the Yingluck Shinawatra government.


Meanwhile, the government has launched economic stimulus measures to accelerate growth.

These stimulus measures include 60 billion baht allocated for village funds nationwide, the tambon development project where each district gets five million baht to invest, a handout project that will give extra cash to farmers.

Moreover, the Prayut administration has come up with tax incentives to spur domestic private investment. For example, it has doubled the amount of investment eligible for this year's tax exemption.

These measures have been implemented at a fast pace to shore up domestic investment and stave off a future economic recession.

The government's large financial injection has helped restore domestic spending which can be seen in an increase in government revenue from the value-added tax (VAT).


However, much still needs to be done to shore up domestic private investment.

The NESDB last month predicted private investment will expand by just 1.5% while public investment will increase by 10%.

Private investment remains a key factor in bringing about an economic recovery.


If the government can pursue its own 20 investment plans, amounting to a total cost of 1.41 trillion baht, several megaprojects are likely to get the go-ahead next year.

These include elevated rail projects in Bangkok and several dual - track rail projects.

The state's megaprojects will draw interest from the private sector.

The real-estate sector, for example, can capitalise on the prospect of home buyers looking to buy properties along the new train line routes.

A failure by the government to push these projects forward will disappoint both voters and investors who have waited for them to get the go-ahead (for example, the long-delayed Thai-Chinese train project here).

Many previous governments had similar megaprojects in the pipeline but faced a delay in execution.

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  • accelerate: to happen or make something happen at a faster rate - เร่ง, เร่งความเร็ว, เพิ่มความเร็ว
  • administration: government - รัฐบาล
  • advertising: telling the public about a product or a service, political candidate, etc. in order to encourage people to buy, use or support it - การโฆษณา
  • allocate (verb): to give out an amount of or share of something - แบ่งส่วน
  • as a result of: because of -
  • average: ordinary; not unusual or different in any way - ธรรมดา, ปกติ
  • bear the brunt of (idiom): to receive the main force of something unpleasant - ได้รับผลกระทบที่รุนแรง
  • capitalise on: to use an event or a situation to help you to achieve something or to get an advantage - ใช้ประโยชน์ให้เต็มที่จาก
  • charter: a constitution - รัฐธรรมนูญ
  • climate: a general attitude or feeling; an atmosphere or a situation which exists in a particular place - บรรยากาศ
  • compensation: money that someone receives because something bad has happened to them - เงินชดเชย
  • continue: happening or existing for a period of time without interruption - ซึ่งติดต่อกัน, ซึ่งต่อเนื่องกัน
  • contract: to get smaller - หดตัว
  • control: To exercise restraining or governing influence over; to check; to counteract; to restrain; to regulate; to govern; to overpower - จัดการ, ควบคุม
  • cost of living (noun): the amount of money that people need to pay for ordinary goods and services such as food, clothing and a place to live - ค่าครองชีพ
  • coup: the seizure of power in a country by a group of people, usually members of the armed forces - รัฐประหาร
  • current: of the present time - ปัจจุบัน
  • debt (noun): an amount of money that you owe - หนี้, นี้สิน
  • delay (noun): causing to happen at a later time; happening at a later time than expected - การเลื่อน, ช้ากว่าปกติ
  • depend on: to rely on - พึ่งพา  
  • determinant: some that determines or decides something, discovering something by examining evidence to or calculate something กำหนด, ระบุ, แสดงผล -
  • district (noun): an area of a country, town or province, especially one that has particular features - เขต, อำเภอ, บริเวณ, แขวง
  • domestic: inside the country being talked about - ภายในประเทศ
  • double: to become twice as big, twice as much or twice as many - เพิ่มเป็นสองเท่า
  • downturn (noun): a time when an economy or industry is weaker than normal; a fall in the amount of business that is done, lower incomes and employment - แนวโน้มที่ตกต่ำลง เช่นในกิจกรรมทางธุรกิจ
  • draw: to attract or interest somebody - ดึงดูดความสนใจ
  • driver (noun): something that causes other things to happen (example: a driver of economic growth) -
  • dual: having two parts or aspects - ประกอบด้วยสองส่วน, เป็นคู่
  • effect: a change that somebody/something causes in somebody/something else; a result - ผลกระทบ
  • election (noun): the process of choosing a person or a group of person for a position, especially by voting - การเลือกตั้ง
  • elevated: raised above the ground, or higher than the surrounding area - ซึ่งอยู่ในระดับที่สูงกว่าสิ่งอื่น
  • eligible: allowed by rules or laws to do something or to receive something - มีสิทธิ
  • employee: someone who is paid regularly to work for a person or an organisation - ลูกจ้าง
  • execution: the act of doing a piece of work, performing a duty, or putting a plan into action - การปฏิบัติเพื่อให้บังเกิดผล
  • exemption: permission to not have to do something, such as making a payment, following a rule, etc. - ข้อยกเว้น
  • exist: to be real; to be present in a place or situation - มีอยู่
  • expand: to make or become larger (noun form: expansion) - ทำให้กว้าง, ทำให้ขยาย
  • expansion: when something increases in size, number or importance - การขยายออก
  • factor: a fact or situation which influences the result of something - ปัจจัย
  • financial: involving money - เกี่ยวกับเงิน, ทางการเงิน
  • foundation: supporting structure - รากฐาน
  • global: world - เกี่ยวกับโลก
  • gloomy: nearly dark, or badly lit in a way that makes you feel sad - มืดมัว, ทึมๆ
  • growth (noun): economic growth, an increase in economic activity - การเติบโต
  • household: a group of people, often a family, who live together - ครัวเรือน
  • impact (noun): an effect or influence - ผลกระทบ
  • implement: to make something such as an idea, plan, system or law start to work and be used - นำแผนหรือนโยบายมาปฏิบัติ, นำมาใช้
  • in a state of flux: everything is changing, so it is hard to predict what will happen in the future -
  • in the pipeline (adjective): working on it now, but not finished -
  • incentive: something that makes you want to do something or work harder, because you know that you will benefit by doing this - สิ่งกระตุ้น
  • income: money that someone gets from working or from investing money - รายได้
  • inflation: a general rise in the prices of services and goods in a particular country, resulting in a fall in the value of money - เงินเฟ้อ
  • injection: putting something into something else, such as a "drug injection" into the blood -
  • instability: a situation that keeps changing, so that you are worried about what might happen - ความไม่มั่นคง
  • interest rate: the percentage that a bank or other financial company charges you when you borrow money, or the percentage it pays you when you keep money in an account - อัตราดอกเบี้ย
  • invest: to spend money on something in order to make it better or more successful - ลงทุน
  • investment (noun): the act of investing money in something - การลงทุน
  • investors (noun): people or organisations that invest money, i.e., use money with the aim of making a profit from it, for example by buying property or buying shares in a company - นักลงทุน
  • key: most important - ที่สำคัญ
  • key: very important - ที่สำคัญ
  • launch (verb): to start something - เริ่มต้น, เปิดโครงการ, เริ่มทำ
  • lay off: to cause someone to lose their job, usually because there is not enough work for them to do - การปลดคนงาน
  • lead: the be the main person in charge of some activity -
  • loan: an amount of money that a person, business, or country borrows, especially from a bank - เงินกู้
  • mainly: mostly; most of -
  • managed to (verb): in the end, did do something, but it was difficult and seemed not possible -
  • measure: a firm action taken to solve a problem or stop a dangerous unpleasant situation - มาตราการ
  • media: radio, television, newspaper, the Internet, considered as a group - สื่อ
  • nationwide: throughout a whole country - ทั่วทั้งประเทศ
  • officials: people who have the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
  • operations: the activity or work done in an area of business or industry - ปฎิบัติการ
  • outcome: a result - ผล
  • politician: a person whose job is concerned with politics, especially as an elected member of parliament, etc. - นักการเมือง
  • positive: good - ที่ดี
  • predict: to say that an event or action will happen in the future, especially as a result of knowledge or experience - คาดการณ์ว่า พยากรณ์จากสถิติว่า
  • private investment (noun): Investment spending by companies not the government or government-owned companies -
  • private sector: businesses and industries that are not owned or controlled by the government - ภาคเอกชน
  • project: a planned piece of work that is designed to find information about something, to produce something new, or to improve something - โครงการ
  • property: a building or buildings and the surrounding land - อสังหาริมทรัพย์
  • prospect (noun): the possibility that something will happen - ความคาดหวัง, โอกาส, ความหวังข้างหน้า อนาคต
  • pursue: to try to achieve something - ดำเนินตาม, พยายามเพื่อให้ได้มาซึ่ง
  • rail: the whole transportation system of trains connecting stations along rail tracks - รางรถไฟ, ระบบทางรถไฟ
  • rate: the level or speed at which something happens or changes, or the amount or number of times it happens or changes in a particular period - อัตรา
  • real-estate (adj): property - อสังหาริมทรัพย์
  • rebound (verb): to rise again after falling, recover - กระโดดขึ้นอีกครั้งหนึ่ง,สะท้อนกลับ,เด้งกลับ
  • recent: happening or starting a short time ago - เร็วๆ นี้
  • recession: a period when trade and industry are not successful and there is a lot of unemployment - ภาวะเศรษฐกิจถดถอย
  • recovery (noun): the process of becoming normal and healthy again - การฟื้นตัว, การฟื้นฟู
  • regime (noun): a government that controls a country - รัฐบาล
  • remain: to still be present after the other parts have been removed, used, etc; to continue to exist - ยังเหลืออยู่
  • renew: to start something again - เริ่มใหม่
  • restore: to bring back to good condition - ฟื้นฟูสภาพ
  • retirement (noun): the time when you stop working, especially because of old age - เกษียณอายุ, การอำลาวงการ
  • revenue: income from taxes or business activities - รายได้
  • rice-pledging scheme: a government programme in which farmers sell rice to the government at a particular price, with the right to reclaim the rice if the market price goes higher - โครงการจำนำข้าว
  • ridden (adj.): to have a lot of something bad -
  • route: the roads, paths, waterways, etc., used to go from one place to another - เส้นทาง
  • sector: a part of a country’s economy or business activity - ภาคเศรษฐกิจของประเทศ
  • sentiment: a thought, opinion or idea based on a feeling about a situation, or a way of thinking about something - กระแส, แนวความคิด, ความคิดเห็น
  • shore up (verb): to help to support something, often that something that has problems or that is weak and in danger fo failing - ยัน, พยุง, เสริม
  • shut (verb): close - ปิด, ปิดไว้, ทำให้ปิด
  • sluggish: slower than what it should be; not performing or reacting as well as usual - เฉื่อยชา
  • spur: to cause something to happen - ก่อให้เกิด 
  • stagnation: a situation where water does not flow and it begins to smell bad -
  • stands at: is the amount .... -
  • stave off: curb, to control or limit something that is harmful - ระงับ, ควบคุม
  • stimulus: a set of programmes, especially government spending programmes, designed to start an economy growing again - แผนกระตุ้นหรือฟื้นฟูเศรษฐกิจ
  • stood at: was at the level ... -
  • suffer: to be badly affected by a very difficult or unpleasant situation - ประสบความลำบาก
  • tax: money that you have to pay to the government so that it can pay for public services - ภาษี
  • track (noun): the two long metal strips that a train travels along - รางรถไฟ
  • turbulence: a state of confusion, disagreement or lack of order - ความวุ่นวาย
  • unemployment: the fact of a number of people not having a job; the number of people without a job - การว่างงาน, จำนวนผู้ว่างงาน
  • value-added tax: a tax that is added to the price of goods and services - ภาษีมูลค่าเพิ่ม
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