Govt talks up stimulus package
Nation 'must protect its export sector'
Friday's first meeting of economic ministers chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will consider a fresh economic stimulus package which is expected to generate cash flows of more than 100 billion baht, Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana said on Thursday.
As concerns about the volatile global economy grow, the government must be ready to minimise any impact on the export sector, he said. If exports are affected, there would be a ripple effect on the whole country, Mr Uttama added.
In light of this, a raft of stimulus measures have been proposed by the Finance Ministry to stimulate domestic spending and investment to boost the public's confidence that the Thai economy will remain strong no matter how the global economy is, he added.
The measures are also aimed at helping the farming sector -- which has been hit by drought -- and farmers so that they can continue growing crops.
Tourism, a key economic engine, also requires a shot in the arm as this will boost the grassroots economy in the provinces, Mr Uttama said, before adding that a special focus will be placed on promoting tourism in big cities and second-tier provinces.
He also said it is necessary to find ways to increase financial liquidity for small and medium-sized enterprises struggling in this climate.
If these measures are carried out successfully, they will boost consumer spending and investment, generating cash flow of more than 100 billion baht, Mr Uttama said, adding the government's budget for these special measures will be less than 100 billion baht.
The measures will be implemented in the third and fourth quarter of this year when a slowdown of the economy is predicted, he said.
Meanwhile, government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat said the meeting of economic ministers on Friday will consider two agendas. The first agenda involves the Thai economy and global economic performance.
The second agenda concerns a stimulus package which includes short-term measures to stimulate the country's economy in the third and the fourth quarters in order to boost economic growth by more than 3% this year.
Ms Narumon said Thai exports have been affected by the slow global economy and the US-China trade war. The value of the country's exports during the past five months has declined by 2.7%, she added.
However, the trade war between the US and China could also help Thailand tap export opportunities in both countries in areas such as farm products and agro-industry, food and beverage, rubber, plastic and chemical products, Ms Narumon said.
She added Gen Prayut has instructed state agencies to study the impacts of the US-China trade war and to find opportunities to benefit from it.
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said that according to preliminary calculations, the Thai economy in the second quarter was forecast to grow less than 2.8% due to slow budget disbursement among state agencies and state-owned enterprise as well as a slowdown in exports.
He said the new stimulus measures should be comprehensive and effective enough to boost the domestic economy in the third and fourth quarters of this year.
Mr Somkid added the stimulus measures will be put forward by the Finance Ministry while the Agriculture and Co-operatives Ministry and the Commerce Ministry will consider measures to help the farming sector later.
A source at Government House said the government will implement measures to benefit all groups ranging from ordinary people, farmers, and SMEs.
The government plans to help SMEs access more funds and upgrade their machinery, the source added.