Thai Finance Minister Shows Greater Concerns on Financial Access amid C.Bank Dispute

The new Thailand’s Finance Minister emphasized concerns about financial access over interest rates following a meeting with the Bank of Thailand (BOT) Governor to coordinate fiscal and monetary policies after a public dispute between the central bank and the former finance minister, the Thai Prime Minister himself.

The discussion between Finance Minister Pichai Chunhavajira and Governor Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput, which lasted nearly two hours, addressed the ongoing disagreement over interest rate adjustments.

During the meeting, Pichai stated that the central bank retains autonomy in determining key rates, while also expressing a willingness to reassess the inflation rate target of 1% to 3%. He highlighted discussions on economic restructuring with the BOT governor and expressed intentions to engage in more frequent dialogues.

Prime Minister and former Finance Minister Srettha Thavisin has advocated for an interest rate reduction to support the economy, contrary to the central bank’s decision to maintain the key rate at 2.50%, its highest level in over a decade. The upcoming rate review is scheduled for June 12.

Despite tensions, Finance Minister Pichai, who assumed office recently, assured that there were no plans to replace the central bank governor or undermine its independence. The government’s stimulus measures, including the controversial distribution of 500 billion baht ($13.84 billion) to households, were not addressed during the meeting as per Pichai.