Thai economy in ‘crisis’ PM says, pledges more stimulus

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Thai economy in 'crisis' PM says, pledges more stimulus © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Srettha Thavisin, Prime Minister of Thailand, speaks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in San Francisco, California, U.S., November 15, 2023. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

BANGKOK (Reuters) -Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said on Wednesday he believes the country’s economy is in crisis, adding the government would roll out stimulus measures in addition to handouts to boost growth.

“I confirm that the economy is not doing well and is in crisis,” he told reporters, adding it was fine if the central bank disagreed with him.

Srettha’s comments come after the central bank governor told Reuters on Tuesday that government stimulus measures would not fix structural issues plaguing Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy.

The government this week slashed 2024’s growth projections to 2.8% from an earlier forecast of 3.2% on weaker exports and foreign tourist arrivals.

Thailand’s growth has been slower than expected but the economy is not in crisis as portrayed by the government, said Bank of Thailand (BOT) Governor Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput, who has come under fire from the premier for not cutting interest rates despite low inflation.

Srettha, who is also finance minister, has told the governor that high rates were hurting businesses and has urged the BOT to lower rates, which are at a decade-high of 2.5%.

His government has promised a slew of stimulus measures to revive the economy, including a $14.3-billion handout programme targeting 50 million Thais.

“Reducing interest rates is a central bank matter … but there will be more policies in addition to the digital wallet.”

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