Consumer confidence up but worries about higher daily wage remain
The country's consumer confidence index (CCI) in December rose to its highest level in the last 15 months, according to the Thai Chamber of Commerce University.
Consumers have become more comfortable following an easing in the domestic and global economic situation, which has contributed to improved consumption, investment, exports and tourism, said Thanawat Polwichai, director of the university's Economic and Business Forecast Centre.
The December CCI was reported at 80.2, an increase from 79.1 while the confidence index on the overall economy was at 70.6, on job opportunities at 71.7 and on future income at 98.3.
However, the fact that the index remained below 100 reflected consumers' lack of confidence in the country's economic situation due to the unstable global economy, the European debt crisis and domestic political tension.
The Bt300 minimum wage increase was ranked top among people's anxieties due to concerns over possible unemployment, which will be more clearly seen in the middle of this year.
Thanawat said the government and private sector needed to urgently solve the problems resulting from the higher minimum wage nationwide.
The US injection of money into the market under the Quantitative Easing measure will stimulate the global economy while contributing to an increase of the fuel price to US$100 per barrel, the academic said, adding that the phenomenon will push Thailand's retail fuel price up by Bt23 per litre.
He predicted Thailand's economic growth at 5 per cent this year thanks to expanded exports but only on the condition that internal political conflicts do not heat up and the US economy does not worsen.
A move by the Bank of Thailand's Monetary Policy Committee to set the inflation framework at 3.33.8 per cent is appropriate and in line with the country's economic situation, Thanawat said.