Thai PM defends economic stimulus measures

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin defended his government’s economic stimulus measures on Tuesday, saying they were aimed at addressing short-term needs like reducing the cost of living.

The government has announced a raft of measures, including a giving every person over 16 years of age 10,000 baht ($276.5) via a “digital wallet” that it hopes will kickstart a sluggish economy.

The rollout of the 560 billion baht digital wallet policy has been delayed to sometime in the first quarter of 2024 from the original Feb. 1 start amid criticism that it may strain state finances.

The economy grew just 1.8% in the April-June quarter from a year earlier, much slower than the previous quarter, as weak exports and investment undercut strength in tourism.

The central bank, which has urged fiscal discipline, recently raised its 2024 growth outlook to 4.4% from 3.8%. Last year’s growth was 2.6%.

Srettha was speaking at an event hosted by The Nation newspaper.

($1 = 36.1700 baht)

(Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat, Panu Wongcha-um; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor and Mark Potter)