The Nation



WB approached for sovereign wealth fund model study

Finance Minister Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala solicited the World Bank to study a sovereign wealth fund model for Thailand, during his meeting with representatives of the bank.

Inclusive of net forwards of US$26.3 billion, Thailand's foreign reserves as of Aug 26 stood at $215.7 billion, according to the Bank of Thailand's data. Naris Chaiyasoot, director-general of the Fiscal Policy Office, said that the finance minister made the request during the meeting, when the World Bank representatives updated him on the progress of joint programmes in Thailand which include tax restructuring, stress tests for specialised financial institutions, green development and growth redistribution. Thirachai has made moves to set up sovereign wealth fund. The Bank of Thailand is now tasked to submit the study on such establishment within a month. Former Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij warned that the new government should be thorough with the idea and cautioned that it is the Bank of Thailand to consider whether the foreign reserves are sufficient for such investment, not the finance ministry or any other politician. "The politicians should stay away from it. It's wrong from the start if this is politically driven," he said. He noted that it needs extra care in investing the reserves, as that would affect foreign investor confidence. Politicians' direction to channel the reserves here and there is likened to intervention and public talks on this issue cause confusion. Thirachai also invited the World Bank's arm, International Finance Corp, to take part in Thailand's financial infrastructure development particularly in postal bank services. Thirachai also welcomed Asian Development Bank's representatives today and he proposed joint cooperation in the infrastructure fund.

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