UPDATE 1-Thai King Approves $ 16 Billion Loan Bill for COVID-19 Response


* New loans to add growth of 1.5 ppts in 2021-2022

* Public debt / GDP ratio seen at 58.56% at the end of September (Addition of details, Deputy Prime Minister, comments by the Minister of Finance)

BANGKOK, May 25 (Reuters) – The King of Thailand has approved a bill to borrow up to 500 billion baht ($ 16 billion) to support the country’s response to COVID-19, the Royal Gazette, as authorities grapple with a third wave of infections.

The Southeast Asian country’s last most serious coronavirus outbreak accounted for around 80% of the country’s total infections and around 90% of its deaths.

The loan was lower than an earlier 700 billion baht plan approved by the cabinet earlier this month.

The new loan is due by September 2022. It will go to parliament next month.

Of the total of 500 billion baht, 300 billion will be intended for relief measures, 170 billion for the revival of the economy and 30 billion for the fight against the epidemic.

“The epidemic should be contained in the second quarter … and the new borrowing should be sufficient,” Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow said in a briefing.

With the new borrowing and current financial support programs, the government has 1.25 trillion baht ($ 39.9 billion) to help the economy compared to 1.9 trillion baht last year, Supattanapong said. .

The first government loans of 1 trillion baht are nearing depletion, officials said.

The new borrowing will help the economy in 2021 and 2022 grow by 1.5 percentage points more than the planned baseline scenario, Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said at the meeting, repeating an earlier statement from the ministry.

“This will help to quickly bring economic and social systems back to normal,” he said.

Last week, the state’s planning agency cut its GDP growth forecast to 1.5% -2.5% from 2.5% -3.5% due to the outbreak.

The country’s public debt / GDP ratio would be 58.56% at the end of September, still within its limit of 60%, Arkhom said.

The finance ministry plans to borrow up to 100 billion baht from the new borrowing plan by September, Patricia Mongkhonvanit, head of the ministry’s public debt management office, said at a separate point. ($ 1 = 31.35 baht) (Report by Orathai Sriring, Panarat Thepgumpanat, Satawasin Staporncharnchai and Kitiphong Thaichareon edited by Martin Petty)


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