Thai Finance Minister Expresses Concerns Over Deteriorating Economic Growth

Thailand’s finance minister remarked on Wednesday that the country’s economy has been struggling for an extended period, facing worsening growth due to underlying structural issues.

Pichai Chunhavajira highlighted the government’s efforts to elevate economic growth to 3% this year, aiming to surpass the current projection of approximately 2.5%. He emphasized that the current growth rates are notably lower compared to the near 6% rates experienced in the past.

With Thailand’s economy expanding by 1.9% last year, falling behind neighboring countries, challenges such as feeble exports, substantial household debt, and high borrowing costs have contributed to the sluggish growth. Over the past decade, the average economic growth was recorded at 1.73%.

Pichai outlined that the tourism sector is expected to play a significant role in stimulating the economy, with an anticipated 35 million foreign tourists arrivals this year, down from nearly 40 million visitors seen in 2019 before the pandemic struck.

Addressing the pressing issue of household debt, currently exceeding 90% of the gross domestic product, he stressed the critical need to address the escalating risks of non-performing loans.

In a bid to aid the property market, Pichai expressed hope that the central bank would ease loan-to-value regulations for mortgages to provide support to the sector.