GDP tipped to grow by 3.7% as key drivers pick up speed
Economic growth this year is forecast to hit 3.7% due to favourable exports, tourism, government and private investments and a consumer rebound, surpassing projections by the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) and the Bank of Thailand (BoT).
The outlook was delivered at the "Thailand 4.0: The Future of Digital Economy" forum, which discussed the government's economic management over the past two years, its support for sustained growth and the latest recovery of the export sector.
Addressing the forum was Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.
Exports rose by 13.2% in August, helped by an improving global economy. It was the highest monthly growth in nearly five years. However, the country used to enjoy much more robust export growth, at 18-20%, in the past.
Mr Somkid said the tourism industry is expanding well while the government's budget disbursements in the fourth quarter are expected to meet target.
Private consumption is on the road to recovery, with private investments likely to pick up after many groups of foreign investors visited this year, he added.
"I am confident that the NESDB and the BoT with adjust economic growth figures upward because of favourable factors, especially in the fourth quarter when figures will be higher," Mr Somkid said.
The NESDB estimated the economy will expand 3.5-4% this year with a strong possibility it will be reach 3.7% while the BoT projected 3.5% growth.
Allaying concerns about the slow economy, Mr Somkid said people should keep a positive outlook as the government is driving economic policies to sustain the momentum.
However, critics feel that recovery is a long way off because the economic structure has not changed.
"I am glad with the improvement of the economy, yet I feel unhappy because big problems remain.
"Income disparity is still with us and large portions of Thai people have yet to gain from economic growth," said the deputy premier who also heads the economic ministers team.
He said as long as the economic structure has not improved, the economic problems that low -income earners face will remain.
The government will spend the remainder of its term restructuring the domestic economy, he added.
"I informed Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha that although the economy has recovered, around 30 million people account for only 10% of GDP. If half of the population is worth only 10% of the economy, it's quite hard to create well-being in this country," he said.
In the short term, the government has implemented measures to help ease the economic strain on people with incomes between 30,000-100,000 baht a year.
In the long term, the government has vowed to help push up the quality of life of low-income earners and boost their incomes.