Thailand’s parliament approved a 1.9 trillion baht (US$59.7 billion) stimulus package, the kingdom’s biggest-ever cash injection, as Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy is expected to contract by 6 to 7 per cent in 2020.
The lower house of Parliament on Sunday (May 31) voted to approve three key emergency decrees providing financial support to businesses and people hit by the Covid-19 fallout.
The first decree authorises the Finance Ministry to borrow about 1 trillion baht to fund the government’s economic and social rehabilitation to provide support to people adversely affected by the virus outbreak.
The second emergency decree is authorising the Bank of Thailand to provide Bt500 billion soft loans to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) hit by the Covid-19 fallout
The third emergency decree is to support bond market liquidity with Bt400 billion via the Corporate Bond Stabilisation Fund (BSF), established by the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Thailand,
Opposition MPs criticised the lack of transparency in how the money will be allocated.
A local trade association estimates that 6.5 million people will be permanently out of a job by the end of 2020.
So far, more than 20 million have registered for a government handout of 5,000 baht (US$150), while many others say they have been left out of the scheme.
The virus’ toll has slowed in recent weeks in Thailand, but its tourism-reliant economy, choked by a lockdown on international travel, is expected to contract by 6 to 7 per cent in 2020.
Thailand received no foreign tourists or related spending in April after closing its borders and banning most incoming international flights to fight the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to Bloomberg.