Bank of Thailand says to turn COVID-19 crisis into development opportunity

Tuesday, 2020-07-21 10:18:46
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The Thai government had set an ambitious target of 41.8 million tourist arrivals this year but coronavirus has put paid to those hopes. (Photo: Nikkei)
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Bank of Thailand governor Veerathai Santiprabhob said on July 20 that Thailand can turn the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity of development by restructuring infrastructure and strengthening rural communities.

Veerathai made the remarks in an address on the "Post-COVID Economic Direction," an event attended by bankers and representatives from multinational companies.

He said Thailand's growth rate for the year 2020 may be the lowest in Southeast Asia, as the Thai economic structure is dependent on exports and tourism, hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis.

"However, the Thai economy had bottomed out in the second quarter, after which it will make a gradual 'V' shaped recovery, back to pre-COVID-19 levels, at the end of next year," he added.

"Thailand currently has an account surplus and high level of international reserves and low level of foreign debt," said the governor. "We can manage the risk of economic recession better than what we did in 1997 during the financial crisis."

However, he warned that the economic recovery will be slow, and "many new college graduates will be affected as there will not be as many job openings comparing to the pre-COVID-19 period."

The bank will be seeking permission from the Thai Cabinet meeting to extend THB500 billion (US$15.72 billion) in soft loans to small and medium-sized enterprises until the end of next year, instead of the end of this October.