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Thai Bankers Say Thai politicians Should “Grow Up”



The chief executive officer of Kasikornbank Banthoon Lamsam


BANGKOK – The chief executive officer of Kasikornbank has urged politicians on both sides of the political divide to stop acting like children and put the interests of the nation first by ending the protests.

 Banthoon Lamsam said representatives from all political groups must respect the rule of law and stop behaving in a manner that could directly and indirectly destroy the country and harm its people.

“The proposed solution to dissolve parliament or form a people’s government does not guarantee to solve the current political deadlock. The real way out is to stay within the bounds of the law and keep social norms intact,” said the CEO of the fourth-largest lender.

“We have no hope of competing with neighbouring countries when the Asean Economic Community arrives because Thailand still cannot deal with its internal problems,” Mr Banthoon warned.

Mr Banthoon said the political situation had already damaged the Thai economy, with investors offloading Thai stocks to reduce risk, while tourists were cancelling trips to Thailand.

He estimated that political tensions would also dent consumer spending at New Year, while growth projections suggest exports will have expanded by less than 1% in 2013 and GDP will have grown by only 3%.

If political tensions are quelled, GDP growth may reach 4-5% in 2014 and export growth 6-7%, he said. Investment in infrastructure would help spur lending by commercial banks, expanding 8-9%, he added.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s central bank unexpectedly lowered the cost of credit Wednesday as escalating protests to topple the government add to pressure on the economy.

The Bank of Thailand said it lowered its policy interest rate by a quarter percentage point to 2.25 per cent, hoping to stimulate lending and investment.


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