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Thailand to tap candidate from outside central bank as next governor

[BANGKOK] Thailand's finance minister said on Monday he would seek cabinet approval for one of the two shortlisted non-central bank candidates as the next Bank of Thailand governor.

The new governor will face the unenviable task of helping stimulate an economy still sputtering one year after the army seized power to end political unrest.

Current Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul's five-year term ends at the end of September.

Finance Minister Sommai Phasee told reporters the selection panel had submitted him "two names of external candidates" from the overall original pool of five candidates who had joined the race for the job. Sommai will pick one of the recommended candidates for cabinet approval.

External candidates are non-central bank officials.

The cabinet is expected to vote on the new governor in the next two weeks.

Acknowledging the stiff challenge facing the next central bank chief in setting monetary policy, and in a nod to the decade of political strife that's tested previous governors, Mr Sommai said: "Importantly, it must be a person who can withstand political friction." Veerathai Santiprabhob is considered the prime candidate outside the central bank. He is a member of the junta's appointed "superboard" overseeing state firms and is also on the central bank's seven-member monetary policy committee (MPC).

Mr Veerathai was an executive at the Stock Exchange of Thailand and Siam Commercial Bank. He holds a doctorate in economics from Harvard University.

The other external candidates are Supavud Saicheua, Phatra Securities managing director, and Kiatchai Sophastienphong, a former central bank director.

According to sources BOT Deputy Governor Paiboon Kittisrikangwan is another leading candidate, while deputy governor Tongurai Limpiti is also seen as a strong contender.

Mr Paiboon is in charge of corporate support services and banknote management and also is on the MPC, which decides Thai monetary policy.