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Thailand approves job measures, calls for economic revamp

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This year, Thailand is expected to record less than a fifth of the nearly 40 million foreign tourists it received in 2019.

Bangkok

THAILAND approved plans to create a quarter of a million jobs and will look to restructure its economy to be less reliant on global demand, its prime minister said on Tuesday, the latest measures to mitigate the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

South-east Asia's second-largest economy suffered its biggest contraction since the Asian crisis in the second quarter, as the global impact of coronavirus, which has infected only a few thousand people in Thailand, battered tourism and slowed consumption.

The government agreed to the private sector hiring 260,000 new graduates for a year, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said after a Cabinet meeting.

"This does not include other employment plans of about a million jobs. There will be a job expo," he said, without elaborating.

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Last week, the government announced stimulus plans worth a combined 68.5 billion baht (S$2.99 billion) - 45 billion baht for handouts and 23.5 billion baht for adding jobs.

Cash handouts had not yet been discussed as more details were needed, Mr Prayuth said.

Thailand needed to diversify its economy, which is heavily reliant on external markets, through large investment projects to increase income and support long-term growth, he said.

"As we depend on exports and tourism, when there are problems with them, our economy will slump," he added. "We need to build a new economy."

This year, Thailand is expected to record less than a fifth of the nearly 40 million foreign tourists it received in 2019, due largely to a ban on visitors in place since April to keep the coronavirus at bay.

The government also plans to study a land bridge project to link the Gulf of Thailand to the Andaman Sea, Mr Prayuth said. REUTERS

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