Thailand plans to take steps to lift economic grow

BANGKOK - Thailand's military government on Wednesday will discuss short-term economic measures that would help the economy return to its normal growth of 4-5 per cent next year, Deputy Prime Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula said.

Southeast Asia's second-largest contracted 0.1 per cent in the first half from a year earlier due to poor exports and months of political unrest that led to a military coup.

Recent data show exports and consumption have still not picked up, putting pressure on the junta to speed up stimulus measures to jack up growth.

Pridiyathorn, who is in charge of economic matters, told a conference that although the economy isn't strong now, government budget disbursements will lead a take-off that will help support growth next year.

"After the termination of the marathon political protest and the establishment of the current government, there is a good chance for the economy to set off for steady growth again," he said.

The government, aiming to focus on job creation, will accelerate disbursement of about 149 billion baht ($4.6 billion) budgeted for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, Pridiyathorn said.

Also, there is some 23 billion baht left over from a previous programme for repairs of schools, hospitals and roads. The government will speed up the approval process of big private investment applications worth 400 billion baht that were been delayed by the turmoil, he said.

The government would also have more measures to increase income and domestic demand, which would be announced after the meeting, he added.

Last week, the central bank slashed its forecast for 2014 export growth to zero from 3 per cent but it maintained its the economy can expand 1.5 per cent this year, hoping government spending will prop up growth.

For 2015, it predicts economic growth of 4.8 per cent, down from 5.5 per cent seen previously.

On Wednesday, James McCormack, global head, sovereign and supranational group, Fitch Ratings London told reporters that"we haven't really seen much of a (Thai) recovery yet but we are thinking that we will in 2015." ($1=32.4 baht)