Thai Cabinet Approves Borrowing of $22.3 Billion for COVID-19 Response

Thai
FILE PHOTO: An ICU nurse wearing personal protection equipment (PPE) attends to a patient suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, May 11, 2021. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

BANGKOK ⸺ Thailand’s cabinet has approved further borrowing of 700 billion baht ($22.29 billion) to support the country’s response to COVID-19, a government official told Reuters on Tuesday, as it deals with its biggest wave of infections so far.

The approval come a day after the state planning agency cut its 2021 economic growth outlook to 1.5%-2.5% from 2.5%-3.5% as the latest COVID-19 outbreak slowed a recovery.

The Southeast Asian country’s latest COVID-19 outbreak has seen infections more than triple and deaths increase sixfold since it started in April, following a year of success in containing earlier outbreaks.

The government’s current 1 trillion baht ($31.83 billion)borrowing to mitigate the impact of the outbreak is close to completion.

The new borrowing would add further growth by 1.5 percentage points to Southeast Asia’s second largest economy, the finance ministry said in a statement.

It is expected to increase the ratio of the country’s public debt to gross domestic product to 58.56% at the end of September, from 54.28% as of March, still below its limit of 60%, the ministry said.

Earlier this month, the ministry said any further borrowing would be conducted carefully, taking into account financial conditions.

($1 = 31.40 baht)

Reporting by Orathai Sriring, Panarat Thepgumpanat and Kitiphong ThaichareonWriting by Martin Petty; Editing by Steve Orlofsky; Reuters

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