BANGKOK : Thailand's economy should grow this year, picking up pace in the third and fourth quarter, after the easing of tougher restrictions to contain the country's biggest coronavirus outbreak, a deputy prime minister said on Thursday.
The restrictions, imposed in July and August, have been eased https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL1N2Q006L from this month as the Southeast Asian country tries to help a flagging economy, with tourism still struggling.
"After the relaxation of curbs, growth in the third and fourth quarter should be good and the result should be positive this year. Next year, the growth rate will increase," Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow, who is in charge of economic matters, told a virtual business seminar.
"There is light at the end of the tunnel," he said.
In August, the state planning agency cut its 2021 economic https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL4N2PL05Ngrowth forecast to 0.7-1.2per cent from 1.5-2.5per cent due to the outbreak.
Consumption has improved since the easing, along with ongoing government assistance measures for households and businesses, Supattanapong said.
The government is ready to offer more support measures as it still has about 400 billion baht (US$12.2 billion) available under a 500 billion baht borrowing plan, he said, adding public debt was not too high compared with other countries.
Also, overall Thai and foreign investment applications are expected to reach 600 billion baht this year, a five-year high, he said.
Thailand has gradually reopened to foreign tourists, but it will take time to fill an "income hole" caused by the slump in tourism, Supattanapong said.
"I'm still confident that the economy will gradually grow with the help of all sides. It's a challenge because of the income hole," he said.
(US$1 = 32.78 baht)
(Reporting by Orathai Sriring, Kitiphong Thaichareon and Satawasin Staporncharnchai; Editing by Ed Davies)