Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday he would hold an urgent meeting to address the internal problems plaguing the State Railway of Thailand.
PM to hold urgent meeting to tackle SRT problems
Thailand is among the region’s more open economies, with exports accounting for around 65% of gross domestic product (GDP)
The Government adopted expansionary fscal and monetary policies to temper the contraction. Private consumption fell by 2.4% year on year in the frst half of 2009, the result of a weakening labor market, a fall in export prices of agricultural commodities that hurt rural incomes, and feeble consumer confdence, particularly during times of political turmoil. Antigovernment street protests in April, which followed an extended period of rising political tensions, led to a temporary state of emergency in the capital, Bangkok. In contrast to the fall in private consumption, government consumption rose by 4.8% in the frst half of 2009 as the Government quickened the pace of its budget disbursement and raised wages for its employees, and rolled out its first fiscal stimulus package from March.
Direct cash was pumped into the grass roots economy, including cash 2,000 baht handouts to nine million civil servants and workers nationwide
It represents one of few times in recent years that fiscal and monetary policies have been complementarily calibrated. A grinding political conflict, pitting supporters and detractors of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was ousted in a 2006 military coup, has hobbled successive governments’ ability to devise and implement effective economic policies.
The debilitating conflict climaxed last November when military-linked anti-government protestors closed Bangkok’s two international airports for over a week, crippling the money-spinning tourism and air freight dependent export sectors. The Bank of Thailand has estimated the closure cost the Thai economy as much as 290 billion baht, with hotels estimated to have lost 140 billion baht due to cancellations.
Rural Thais’ numerical superiority, coupled with their unofficial ‘right’ to sell their votes, was experienced by urban middle-class voters, especially in Bangkok, as ‘the tyranny of the rural majority’, which allowed the unscrupulous and rapacious electocrats from the country to misrule the city and mismanage the economy. Meanwhile, the liberal principle of property rights and the city’s greater purchasing power and undemocratic economic freedom to trade, invest, consume, overspend, exploit and pollute were in turn regarded by the rural folk as constituting an ‘urban uncivil society’, which dispatched hordes of avaricious government officials to plunder the countryside. This ‘tale of two democracies’, rural versus urban, made for a divided society that sustained and reproduced the electocracy, and yet was powerless to control it.
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