The Nation



Costs of prolonged protests

The anti-government protests have put pressure on four economic areas - tourism, private investment, the disbursement of the 2014 budget, and domestic consumer confidence, according to the National Economic and Social Development Board.

In the televised programme hosted by the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO), Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, NESDB secretary general, said that the tourism industry has showned a continued drop since November, while private investment and budget disbursement has been slowing and resulting in lower-than-expected injection into the economy.

"If the protests continue, this would dent investor confidence in the Thai economy, local and foreign. Consumer and investor confidence could continue contracting in 2014," he said.

Arkhom is among three government officials invited for a discussion with CAPO on Thursday. After a 30-minute discussion, their chiefs joined the CAPO’s televised programme.

The others are Finance permanent secretary Rangsan Sriworasart and Budget Bureau director-general Somsak Chotratanasiri.

Rangsan noted that if protests continue, the government’s target to collect tax revenue of Bt2.275 trillion could be missed, as protests dent the confidence of consumers and investors. In the first two months of the 2014 fiscal year or during October and November, revenue of the three tax-collecting agencies was only Bt325.53 billion, or a decrease by 2.1 per cent or Bt9.1 billion from the same period last year. Meanwhile, value-added tax revenue also fell by 7.3 per cent while revenue on import tariffs by 15 per cent.

Somsak revealed that the 2014 budget disbursement has been slowing. As of December 13, only Bt567 billion has been disbursed or 22.47 per cent of the amount disbursed in the same period last year. The disbursed amount also showed a decrease by Bt62.79 billion from the same period last year.

He attributed the decline to the malfunction of state enterprises’ Government Fiscal Management Information System (GFMIS). He expected the system to be fully restored soon.

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