Thai GDP expected to grow 3.5per cent-4.5per cent in 2022 despite Omicron -Finance Minister
BANGKOK : Thailand's economy is still expected to grow 3.5per cent-4.5per cent this year driven by fiscal policy, exports and investment, despite an outbreak of the Omicron coronavirus variant remaining a challenge, the finance minister said on Thursday.
Growth in 2021 is estimated to come in at only 1per cent, as the vital tourism sector has yet to recover significantly, but the resumption of Thailand's quarantine waiver for foreign tourists from next month should help, Finance minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith told a business seminar.
Export momentum should continue despite global supply chain disruptions, he said.
The government plans to invest 900 billion baht (US$27.4 billion) in infrastructure projects this year, Arkhom said, adding there were also other public-private investment projects.
After earlier 1.5 trillion baht borrowing plans, the government can still borrow a further 10per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) if needed, he said.
"The fiscal position remains strong. In case of any crisis, the government is ready to support the economy," Arkhom said.
With the price of goods rising, he said the government would try to keep inflation within its 1per cent-3per cent target range.
Sakkapop Panyanukul, a senior director at the Bank of Thailand (BOT), told the seminar inflation could be higher than forecasts but would not disrupt the recovery. The BOT sees inflation at 1.7per cent in 2022 and 1.4per cent next year.
The central bank expects GDP to show growth of almost 1per cent in 2021, and 3.4per cent this year, which was recently trimmed from 3.9per cent following the Omicron outbreak, he said. Official 2021 and fourth-quarter GDP data is due next month.
The BOT will keep financial conditions accommodative and focus on economic stability, Sakkapop said, adding global financial volatility would have a limited impact on Thailand and the BOT had tools to manage this.
The BOT has left its policy rate at a record low of 0.50per cent since May 2020, and most analysts see no policy change through this year.
(US$1 = 32.91 baht)
(Reporting by Orathai Sriring, Kitiphong Thaichareon and Satawasin Staporncharnchai; Editing by Martin Petty and Ed Davies)