Thailand earmarks further US$15 bil for coronavirus crisis

Health personnel spray disinfectant at Thailand’s first field hospital for Covid-19 patients north of Bangkok. (Bernama pic)

BANGKOK: Thailand’s new stimulus package to alleviate the impact of the coronavirus crisis will be worth more than 500 billion baht (US$15.3 billion), its finance minister said on Monday,

It has already introduced two packages, the first to inject 400 billion baht into the economy and the second, worth 117 billion baht, to include cash handouts.

The latest is being worked on by the finance ministry, the central bank and relevant agencies, Uttama Savanayana said.

“We can’t tell the size yet as we are working on it. But it should be bigger than earlier two packages combined,” he told a news conference, adding: “We will try to do it quickly.”

Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic as it is heavily reliant on exports and tourism. It has reported 1,524 cases of coronavirus and nine deaths as a result of the outbreak.

Thailand’s central bank expects the economy to contract 5.3% this year, which will mark the first shrinkage since the global financial crisis in 2009.

Uttama said Thailand has no plans to borrow from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as its fiscal position is strong and it is able to tap other funding sources, including the fiscal budget.

Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said last week that the government was ready to issue a decree to borrow if necessary.