Deputy upbeat on growth projection

The government remains confident the economy will expand this year after the easing of lockdown restrictions in 29 provinces.

Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow said yesterday the country’s economy is expected to pick up the pace and domestic consumption resume in the third and fourth quarters after the relaxation of restrictions earlier this month.

He said the Covid-19 infection rate is projected to drop on a continuous basis thanks to expedited vaccinations nationwide.

“There is now a light at the end of the tunnel and the government expects economic growth to maintain its momentum until next year,” said Mr Supattanapong.

“The government vows to continue economic development, but it needs full cooperation from all sectors: public, private and ordinary people.”

He said the prime minister ordered all responsible agencies to speed up economic development to full throttle.

The export sector has projected growth of more than 10% and is the main contributor to the Thai economy this year, said Mr Supattanapong.

Private investment is expected to improve after applications to the Board of Investment (BoI) in the first six months this year tallied 386 billion baht, an increase of 158% from 150 billion year-on-year.

“If the government can maintain economic growth momentum and contain infection rates, total investment applications submitted to the BoI are likely to reach 600 billion baht this year, the highest in five years,” he said. “There are positive signals from foreign firms that want to invest in Thailand.”

Thailand has gradually reopened five provinces to vaccinated foreign tourists and is scheduled to reopen five more, comprising Bangkok, Chon Buri, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phetchaburi and Chiang Mai, on Oct 1.

However, Mr Supattanapong admitted Thailand’s tourism will take time to reach the lofty heights it attained before the pandemic.

The government pledges to implement various infrastructure projects after investing in 160 development projects worth 1-2 trillion baht the past six years, he said.

The government also vows to continue relief measures for people and businesses affected by the Covid-19 outbreaks.

The government still has around 400 billion baht available from the new 500-billion-baht borrowing plan, said Mr Supattanapong.

More measures to stimulate domestic consumption including the co-payment subsidy scheme and tourism stimulus package “We Travel Together” are also planned, he said.

Mr Supattanapong said other items on the government agenda include promotion of greenhouse gas emission reduction; electrical vehicles; the bio-, circular and green economy; and digital technology in both the private and public sectors, with a target for Thailand to rank top 10 globally in ease of doing business within 1-2 years.

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