The Thai Cabinet on March 24 approved financial support measures worth a total of 350 billion Baht (11.3 billion USD) to assist businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
|Pedestrians walk along a near empty Khaosan Road in Bangkok (Photo source: Bloomberg) |
Bangkok – The Thai Cabinet on March 24 approved financial support measures worth a total of 350 billion Baht (11.3 billion USD) to assist businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Accordingly, the measures include a plan to provide 250 billion baht of soft loans for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and a 100-billion-baht programme called “Asset Warehousing” to support debtors who are unable to repay their loans.
The steps to channel more credit to business came a day ahead of a central bank rate decision, with the Bank of Thailand expected to hold its benchmark rate at a record low of 0.5 percent for a seventh straight meeting. The central bank sees tourism, which accounted for about one-fifth of gross domestic product pre-pandemic, as key to returning the economy to growth after it shrank by 6.1 percent last year.
The economy is expected to return to pre-coronavirus pandemic levels in the third quarter of next year, with the recovery slow and uneven as tourism remains sluggish.
The tourism-reliant economy could take at least four to five years to see the number of foreign tourists return to normal levels, of about 40 million a year, said central bank Governor Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput.