High uncertainty weighs on Thai economic outlook: central bank

Thailand’s economic outlook remained highly uncertain with considerable downside risks, the Bank of Thailand, the country’s central bank, said Wednesday.

Although the impact of the recent COVID-19 outbreak on the economy would be less severe than last year, the pace of recovery would be slower and more uneven among sectors and firms, the central bank said in a statement on its website.

The public sector should implement sufficient, targeted and front-loaded measures to offset the negative impact on the economy, it said.

On Feb. 3, the central bank held the policy rate unchanged at 0.5 percent, its sixth straight hold, to support the economic recovery in the Southeast Asian country.

“The problem facing the Thai economy was less about the level of the policy interest rate as lending rates and bond yields were already at a record low,” the central bank said.

It vowed to preserve the limited policy space to act at the appropriate and most effective timing to maximize its effectiveness.

Thailand’s economy contracted 6.1 percent in 2020, the sharpest decline since 1998. It is projected to rise 2.5 to 3.5 percent this year, according to the National Economic and Social Development Council.

As of Wednesday, the country’s total COVID-19 caseload rose to 24,961, with more than 20,000 of the infections being detected since the new wave of the coronavirus outbreak erupted in mid-December.