The Thai economy is expected to continue its growth momentum next year with more economic reforms after estimates put the third-quarter growth this year at above 4 per cent.
The message came from Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, who was speaking at a seminar on “Transforming the Economy – Thailand Economic Outlook 2018: An Era of Business Transformation”, organised by Krungthep Turakij newspaper and Bank of Ayudhya yesterday.
Last Wednesday, Bank of Thailand’s Monetary Policy (MPC) held the policy rate at 1.50 per cent, citing satisfactory economic expansion and would likely revise up its 2018 economic forecast later this year.
The MPC’s estimates are in line with all economic agencies including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund as well as Thailand’s National Economic and Social Development Board which predicted the Thai growth to be better than expected.
“The economy has seen a marked improvement from three years ago. This environment will support reforms,” Somkid said.
Next year, the agricultural sector will be a major issue, given the drop in prices of some agricultural products, he said.
Similarly, low-income earners would be taken care of through promotion of e-commerce, while start-ups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) would be financially supported by Government Savings Bank and SME Development Bank of Thailand which would act like local banks closer to customers’ problems, he said.
He said foreign investors would invest more if there was domestic political stability, adding Thailand will play a greater role in China’s One Belt, One Road policy.
Somkid said a Cabinet reshuffle is a certainty but the extent of the shake-up would depend on the prime minister. He assured that the government’s economic policies would remain unchanged.
Giving a special speech on “Infrastructure Opportunities under Thailand 4.0” in the same seminar yesterday, Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said that during three years of the current government, transportation infrastructure projects worth Bt2.39 trillion have been planned.
It was large investment for 10 years, he said. Such an investment plan would speed up construction within next year.
Three Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT) lines, which have not been constructed, would commence construction within 2018, he said.
The MRT Purple Line (Tao Poon-Rat Burana) was given Cabinet approval and is in the process of drafting Terms of Reference and auction, while the MRT Orange Line (Thai Cultural Centre-Taling han) project and route plan would be proposed to the Cabinet meeting within this December, he said. The MRT Red Line (Thammasat University, Rangsit Campus) will be proposed to the Cabinet meeting early next year.
Next year, the Transport Ministry planned to add eight more projects worth about Bt103 billion, he said. These projects include inter-city motorways projects, airport improvement in Khon Kaen and Krabi and regional rapid transit system in Phuket, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima and Chiang Mai.
In the Eastern Economic Corridor, about 103 transportation infrastructure projects worth a combined Bt745 billion would start in 2018 in order to accommodate private investment in the area.