World Economy

Thailand Rebuts Gloomy Predictions

Thailand Rebuts Gloomy PredictionsThailand Rebuts Gloomy Predictions

The Thai government has shrugged off projections of a lackluster economy this year, saying economic cabinet ministers have more ammunition to stimulate the economy in addition to megaproject spending.

Cabinet ministers are not in the least worried about criticism by the Pheu Thai Party, which has forecast that the economy will weaken further this year, Prime Minister’s Office spokesman Maj. Gen. Sansern Kaewkamnerd said on Saturday, Yahoo reported.

Pichai Naripthaphan, a former energy minister and member of the Pheu Thai economic team, said on Friday that the economy would not only fail to pick up this year but also would worsen even as the US economy continued to recover.

He cited as reasons the possible loss of some Generalized System of Preferences tariff reductions for Thai goods and slave labor issues faced by Thailand, as well as the normalization of interest rates by the world’s largest economy.

“Pheu Thai’s projection is incomprehensible and out of sync with those of leading institutions such as the Thai Chamber of Commerce and most financial institutions, as well as international organizations,” said Sansern.

“They all agree the Thai economy will improve this year in the wake of the recovering global economy and a weak baht, which makes Thai products more competitive.”

The government is accelerating public spending on large infrastructure projects, several of which will begin construction this year. Tourism is also doing better than expected, he added.

“The economic team will periodically announce unexpected stimulus measures throughout the year. We’re confident Thai exports and the overall economy will meet our projections.”

Citing the latest example, Sansern said the government was satisfied with its year-end tax break to promote private consumption.

Shopping malls were crowded during the seven-day campaign, which allows taxpayers to deduct 15,000 baht spent during the period from their taxable incomes.

“A rough estimate shows that if only half of the two million taxpayers took advantage of the privilege, as much as 15 billion baht would be circulated during the period,” said the spokesman.

“It’s a success and benefits a large number of manufacturers and service providers in various industries.”

One of the criteria for the tax break was that purchasers must provide receipts from VAT-registered businesses when they file their tax returns.

“We’d like to invite vendors who have yet to enter the tax system to do so that they won’t miss out on future stimulus measures,” he said. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has called on Thais to be alert for change and the new opportunities that will come to Thailand and other Asean countries now that the Asean Economic Community has officially begun.

Sansern said Prayut wanted Thais to seek more knowledge and self-development in order to benefit their career paths and the country’s competitiveness.