Thai Industries Sentiment Hits Eight Month Low on Virus Return

Thai
FILE PHOTO: A container is loaded onto a cargo ship at a port in Bangkok March 30, 2015. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

BANGKOK ⸺ Thailand’s industries sentiment in April hit its lowest in eight months after its biggest coronavirus outbreak struck, and the government should borrow 1 trillion baht ($32 billion) more to support the economy, an industries group said on Monday.

The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) said its Thai industries sentiment index dropped to 84.3 last month from 87.3 in March, it said.

The index for the next three months also fell, suggesting the outbreak is likely to drag on longer amid the slow rollout of vaccines, FTI chairman Supant Mongkolsuthree told a briefing.

“Overall sentiment tumbled as the outbreak has been very severe… with no signs of subsiding,” he said.

Despite no official lockdown being declared, restrictions to curb the spread have hit trade, investment, tourism and spending, Supant said.

Thailand on Monday reported 1,630 new infections and 22 new deaths, taking its total cases to 85,005 and fatalities to 421.

Most of its COVID-19 infections and deaths have been recorded during the latest outbreak, which was first detected at the end of March. 

The FTI suggested the government borrow another 1 trillion baht to support the economy as its current 1 trillion baht borrowing plan is running out.

“I’ve said two trillion baht. One trillion baht is not enough as the situation is changing,” Supant said.

On Monday, the state planning agency said it had discussed with relevant government agencies ways to support future government measures after the current 1 trillion baht borrowing is used up.

So far 763 billion baht has been approved, with 650 billion spent.

If the government needs to borrow more for economic measures, it will be done carefully, taking into account financial conditions, the finance ministry said in a statement on Monday.

Reporting by Orathai Sriring, Kitiphong Thaichareon and Satawasin Staporncharnchai; Editing by Martin Petty; Reuters

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