Thai GDP growth seen at almost 4%

Thai GDP growth seen at almost 4%

BANGKOK- Thailand’s economy likely grew almost 4 percent in 2017, with the momentum picking up, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said on Wednesday.

Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy has been driven by exports and tourism as big infrastructure projects have largely been slow.

“Supposing this quarter (Q4/2017) it (growth) is 4 to 4.5 (percent) then the whole year should be 4 or close to 4. The momentum is continuously better,” Somkid told a seminar in Bangkok.

The state planning agency predicts GDP growth of 3.9 percent for 2017 and 3.6-4.6 percent for 2018. Official 2017 GDP data is due to be released on Feb. 19.

In 2016, growth was 3.2 percent, lagging regional peers.

Somkid said the government would still have to speed up work, especially a reform of the grassroots economy.

“This year will be a year of helping the poor and reducing inequality,” he said.

Later on Wednesday, Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong said the ministry would next month seek cabinet approval for an extra budget of 100 billion baht ($3.11 billion) to finance projects worth 35 billion baht for low-income earners, which were approved on Tuesday.

The money will also be used for other projects, including village funds, he said.

A joint committee of industry, banking and commerce on Wednesday predicted GDP growth of 3.8-4.5 percent for 2018, but it said it was concerned that a rapid rise in the baht would affect Thailand’s export competitiveness.

The baht traded at 32.17 per dollar on Wednesday, near a 40-month high. – Reuters