[BANGKOK] Thailand plans to introduce short-term economic measures to help low-income earners and farmers as well as speed up investment projects, a new deputy prime minister said on Monday, as the military government seeks to boost the flagging economy.
Southeast Asia's second-largest economy has yet to regain traction more than a year after the army seized power in May 2014 to end months of political unrest, with exports and domestic demand stubbornly subdued.
The economy has consistently missed government targets, putting pressure on the junta to reshuffle the cabinet to try to lift growth as a weak economy could undermine support for the generals. "We plan measures to help farmers, the grassroots and low income earners. I would call these short-term measures, aiming at moving the economy," Somkid Jatusripitak, appointed last week to oversee the economy, told reporters. He gave no further details on the measures.
The junta would also speed up all major investments, not only infrastructure projects, Somkid said. "The government will invest in every cluster to distribute growth across the nation while seeking international cooperation in all aspects in order to build up trade cooperation," he said.
Mr Somkid said Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha had asked him to push ahead on the government's economic measures and the cabinet was ready to give support.
He said he would meet with the business sector on Thursday to seek cooperation in driving the economy forward.
Mr Somkid also said the country's economic fundamentals remained strong and viewed the global slowdown as short term.
The national planning agency last week cut its economic growth forecast for this year again to 2.7-3.2 per cent from 3.0-4.0 per cent. Many economists believe that is too optimistic. Growth in 2014 was only 0.9 per cent.
The economy grew 0.4 per cent in April-June from the previous quarter, with tourism the key driver. A bomb in Bangkok last week, which killed 20 people, has dealt a further blow to the economy.