BANGKOK – Thailand’s Junta Government has launched a fresh economic stimulus package worth 21.8 billion baht to counter signs of an economic slowdown and boost domestic consumption to offset weaker exports.
The measures include 13.2 billion baht of public welfare benefits for low-income earners, the disabled, farmers and children; and tax measures worth 8.6 billion baht for those who purchase books, property and certain products such as uniforms, sports equipment and textbooks for students.
According to Nathporn Chatusripitak, spokesman to Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, the government is hopeful that the measures could help the economy grow by 3.9% this year, up from the 3.8% projection of the Fiscal Policy Office (FPO).
FPO director-general Lavaron Sangsnit said the measures are aimed at shoring up the economy after signs of a slowdown in the first quarter of this year.
The FPO has reduced its 2019 economic growth forecast to 3.8% from 4% as slower global economic growth takes a toll on exports.
The new economic forecast is in line with the Bank of Thailand’s current projection of 3.8% and the National Economic and Social Development Council’s estimate of a range of 3.5-4.5%.
The lower estimate came after merchandise shipments in US dollar terms shrank 1.6% for the first three months, compared with the target of 2% growth.
According to Mr Lavaron, the new economic package will help boost the gross domestic product by 0.1% from 3.8% projection.
“The Thai economy has shown signs of slowing but it is not seriously ill. So, it has no need of strong medicine yet,” said Mr Lavaron.
As a result, the office did not push the 1,500-baht welfare card handout to promote internal tourism within the country.
Under the 15-billion-baht proposal, which has been dropped, 10 million people would have been allocated 1,500 baht each on their cards to spend across 55 second-tier provinces.
By Chatrudee Theparat
The Bangkok Post