Thai parliament passes bill on US$16bil borrowing to fight Covid-19


BANGKOK, June 12 (Reuters): Thailand's parliament this week has passed a bill to allow the government to borrow an additional 500 billion baht (US$16 billion) to help the tourism-reliant country deal with its latest and worst coronavirus outbreak so far.

The bill passed with 270 votes in favour from a total of 469 members of parliament present.

The move also comes following the report that the Thai consumer confidence dropped to a record low in May, hurt by the country's latest and biggest coronavirus outbreak so far and a slow economic recovery, a survey showed on Thursday (June 10).

The consumer index of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce fell to 44.7 in May from 46.0 in April, when an outbreak emerged that has accounted for most of Thailand's overall Covid-19 infections and deaths.

A sluggish rollout of vaccines and political uncertainty had also undermined consumer confidence in drivers for an economic recovery, university president Thanavath Phonvichai told a briefing.

If the outbreak can be controlled this month, the economic impact is estimated at 500 billion baht to 800 billion baht this year, he said, adding a commerce confidence index also hit a record low in May.

However, consumer confidence is expected to pick up over the next six months on optimism about a pickup in vaccinations and reopening to foreign visitors, Thanavath said.

Thailand started its long awaited mass vaccination drive on Monday. - Reuters

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