Thai economy may grow 2.8% this year after new govt – deputy Finance Minister

By Kitiphong Thaichareon

BANGKOK (Reuters) -Thailand’s economy is expected to grow 2.8% this year, helped by public consumption and investment after the formation of a new government, a deputy finance minister said on Friday, as exports remain weak amid slowing global demand.

Public investment and spending will also attract more private investment while private consumption and tourism are still growing well, Deputy Finance Minister Krisada Chinavicharana said.

The 2.8% growth outlook, however, will not reach the ministry’s earlier forecast of 3.5% this year, he told reporters after telling a business event that the economy might grow as forecast this year.

“But this year the economy will definitely meet the country’s growth target of 2.8%” as predicted by the National and Social Development Council, the state planning agency, he said.

“The engine that is about to start is public consumption and spending after the government formation,” Krisada said.

The new government led by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, who is also finance minister, seeks to revive Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy and deliver on key campaign promises.

It is due to deliver its policy statement on Monday.

Thailand’s 2024 fiscal budget will be brought up for immediate consideration, Krisada said. The 3.35 trillion baht ($94.2 billion) budget plan was put on hold for the new administration.

The economy should perform well in 2024, helped by a government digital handout policy worth 560 billion baht ($15.8 billion), he said.

The government has funding sources for the scheme without issuing a special borrowing law, Krisada added.

Thailand’s economy grew 1.8% in the April-June period on the year and 0.2% on the quarter, sharply slowing from the previous quarter, as weak exports and investments undercut tourism strength. Last year’s growth was 2.6%.

($1 = 35.56 baht)

(Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon; Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor and Stephen Coates)