Q3 2021

4 APAC / Issue Q3 2021 NEWS , Thailand’s central bank will focus on creating conditions for expanding debt relief and credit for firms to boost the flagging economy, the bank’s chief said, adding that already low interest rates had become a blunt tool for many policymakers. Governor Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput also told Reuters in an interview that, while an economy under pressure from the country’s worst coronavirus outbreak yet might shrink in the third quarter from the second, he did not expect it to contract in 2021 as a whole. Curbs to contain COVID-19 have crippled activity in Thailand’s dominant in tourism sector, which in a normal year accounts for 11-12% of GDP and 20% of employment, though increased exports and fiscal measures have lent the economy some support. The central bank’s (BOT) monetary policy committee last week voted 4-2 to hold the one-day repurchase rate at a record low 0.50%. It was the first split decision since a rate cut in May 2020, and some analysts believe a further cut is possible this year. The BOT holds its next policy meeting on Sept. 29. Sethaput said the current rate was no obstacle to what would be a very uneven economic recovery. Asked about the possibility of a cut, he stressed that most of the monetary policy committee had so far not seen a need. “We feel that policy rates are a blunt tool,” he said. “There are more direct, more targeted measures that might more appropriately address the kind of things that are hindering our economic recovery.” Expanded access to credit and debt relief were next on the central bank’s priority list, he said. Thai banks have traditionally been reluctant to lend to smaller businesses due to credit risks, and Sethaput added that the BOT expected bad loans to rise Thai central bank eyes credit market to help kick-start economy- head By Kay Johnson and Orathai Sriring, Reuters News