Thai official says economic fundamentals remain solid

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    BANGKOK- Thailand’s economic fundamentals and fiscal position remain strong, the finance minister said on Wednesday, despite the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic on the tourism-reliant country.

    Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy shrank 12.2 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, the sharpest drop since the 1998 Asian financial crisis.

    Despite the unfavorable climate, Thailand’s economic fundamentals remain solid on both the internal and external fronts, making Thailand one of the most resilient economies in the region, Predee Daochai told a business seminar.

    “We believe that the worst is behind us. The economy is projected to bottom out in the second half of this year and would pick up in 2021 with 4 percent-5 percent” growth, he said.

    The finance ministry has forecast a record economic contraction of 8.5 percent this year.

    Thailand will carry out necessary economic and health-care policies to sustain the level of economic growth and activities, Predee said. “We have to brace and prepare ourselves for any unforeseeable risks”.

    The government will continue to support vulnerable groups, and promote job creation as well as focusing on large-scale investment projects for long-term competitiveness, he said.

    In response to the pandemic-induced recession, the government has launched relief and stimulus measures worth about 2.2 trillion baht ($70.22 billion), or 12 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), to help households and businesses affected by the outbreak, Predee said.

    That includes a 1.9 trillion baht package comprising 1 trillion baht borrowing and 900 billion baht in soft loans. – Reuters