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Money for farmers, liquidity for SMEs economic priorities

The economic chief of the National Council for Peace and Order yesterday promised to help farmers get their dues under the rice-pledging scheme and assured easy access to liquidity for small and medium-sized enterprises as its priorities.

Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong, who is also the NCPO's economic chief, addressed a meeting with Finance Ministry officers and state-enterprise employees at the ministry yesterday. He outlined a three-stage economic plan dealing with urgent issues, short-term and long-term.

"We will maintain peace to win over the confidence of investors and consumers while finding ways to stimulate the economy at the same time. Urgent issues will be dealt with first and a complete road map will be presented to the public by next week," he said.

Among the urgent issues, the NCPO has assigned the Finance Ministry to secure Bt92 billion in funding to repay farmers who are owed under the rice-pledging scheme through the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives.

'Boost to GDP'

The NCPO and Finance Ministry permanent secretary Rungson Sriworasat believe the overdue rice-pledging payments will boost gross domestic product by 0.2 per cent through increased spending by farmers. The NCPO will also speed up the implementation of the fiscal 2015 budget to meet the schedule by October.

Regarding value-added tax, which is currently at 7 per cent, Rungson said the ministry had proposed an extension of the rate for one more year before raising it. This is now under the consideration of the NCPO. The junta has instructed relevant agencies to speed up state spending and said projects that could not be completed under the 2014 budget could be considered for the 2015 budget.

Other urgent issues include helping SMEs by providing easier access to cash. The NCPO will instruct the Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation to guarantee SME loans without collateral upto a total of Bt165 billion.

In the short term, the NCPO plans to continue with part of the water-management and infrastructure plans, but it will select the most urgent ones such as flood prevention and double-tracking railways. It will only consider projects that can be approved within the budgetary period, and ones that will not create fiscal strain.

As for long-term development, the NCPO has instructed financial agencies to do their "homework" and present their plans to the junta by Saturday.


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