Annual inflation hit a 16-month high of 4.1% in January on rising food, farm and fuel prices. But the sharp rise was in part due to last year’s low base, when prices fell due to the global recession.
The country’s annual consumer price index, which tracks 417 products and services, rose for the fourth consecutive month after climbing by 3.5% year-on-year rise in December.
Monthly inflation returned to positive numbers of 0.6% in January, after dipping to -0.1% in December from 0.3% in November.
“The further increase in consumer prices reflects clearer signs of the country’s economic recovery and a rebound in consumer spending, due to export recovery which leads an increase in industrial manufacturing, employment and rising farm prices on the back of high global demand,” said Yanyong Phuangrach, permanent secretary for commerce.
Food and beverage prices rose by 3.2% year-on-year, largely due to increases in the cost of rice, flour and cereal products, meats, vegetables and fruits.
Inflation may accelerate to as much as 5 percent this year on rising oil prices and as the $261 billion economy recovers from its recession, the central bank predicts. The expiration of the government’s subsidy program for low-income earners will also lead to higher prices.
Pakorn Peetathawatchai, President, The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET)
What measures has SET taken to support listed companies’ compliance with ESG standards?
PAKORN: When we first began promoting ESG-compliant investments, we were met with little interest. We attributed this to a lack of clear data to showcase the economic benefits of ESG investment, and perhaps limited clarity as to what constitutes a sustainable or ESG-compliant investment. The launch of the THSI list and, subsequently, the SETTHSI Index, was designed to address this. Our most recent data, comparing returns for the SETTHSI Index with the broader SET and SET100 indices from April 2020 to April 2021, underscores the economic benefits of these investments: the group compliant with ESG standards outperformed the other two indices on every data point.
As of May 2021 Thailand was home to CG and ESG assets under management totalling BT54.8bn ($1.7bn) across 50 funds – up from 23 funds in 2019. Meanwhile, of the BT187.1bn ($5.9bn) raised in green, social and sustainability bonds since 2018, BT136.4bn ($4.3bn) was raised in 2020 – 83% from the government and the remainder from development banks and private players. This rising demand, in a move to manage risk and generate returns, has been complemented by growing supply and promotion: supply from ESG-compliant businesses aiming for resiliency and sustainable growth, as well as promotion from regulators highlighting investment opportunities with good CG and SD practices. Indeed, the pandemic has been a catalyst in shifting the view of ESG compliance from a luxury to a requirement in the new normal.
In what ways can enhanced standard-setting and regulatory mechanisms overcome the remaining barriers to improved ESG performance?
PAKORN: A multi-stakeholder approach is crucial for enhanced ESG performance – not only in Thailand, but around much of the globe. This can also help to address the standout incumbent challenge: access to reliable, wide-ranging ESG data. For example, the 2020 update to the 56-1 One Report established clear ESG standards and triggered online and offline capacity-building programmes to support listed firms’ compliance. SET is developing an ESG data platform with a structured template to promote the availability of comparable data, maximise value added from corporate sustainability disclosures, and foster collaboration between the business value chain and stakeholders. This is expected to support Thai companies along their ESG journey in an economically sustainable way, result in a greater number of sustainability-focused products and services, drive sustainable investing in the Thai investment community and ultimately “make the capital market work for everyone”, as outlined in the SET’s vision.
Youth unemployment hits new highs in Thailand due to COVID-19 restrictions
BANGKOK, Thailand (ILO news) – Joblessness among young men and women in Thailand has reached a level unseen in recent years due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new brief from the International Labour Organization (ILO).
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