Thailand Plans More Economic Measures To Cope With Virus Impact

Thailand
FILE PHOTO: Construction workers are seen in a building in Bangkok, Thailand March 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

BANGKOK ⸺ Thailand plan additional measures to retain jobs and boost domestic consumption in a bid to help the Southeast Asian economy weather its most severe coronavirus outbreak so far, the state planning agency said on Thursday.

The tourism-reliant nation is struggling with a third wave of infections which have accounted for more than 80% of its total cases and deaths.

“We need to have enough oxygen for the business sector to get going… and to sustain consumption at normal levels,” Danucha Pichayanan, head of the National Economic and Social Development Council, told a seminar.

“We can survive if we help each other,” he said.

The measures being prepared include one to retain jobs at smaller firms and assistance for tourism, which has been hit by the outbreak, he said, without giving details.

“If asked when tourism will return, nobody can give a clear answer,” Danucha said, adding international air traffic data showed global travel would take more than two years to normalise.

Thailand’s tourism might not normalise until 2026, affecting over 7 million workers, as the country’s jobless rate hit a 12-year high in the first quarter, he said previously.

The new measures would be financed by new borrowing of 500 billion baht ($16 billion), which was approved by the king earlier this week, Danucha said.

Earlier the government introduced billions of dollars of stimulus measures to mitigate the outbreak impact, including cash transfers, subsidies, soft loans and job hiring support.

($1 = 31.24 baht)

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

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