Thai economy in critical situation, PM's aide says

Commercial hub: Tourists and locals lining up to take commuter boats from the dock at the IconSiam shopping mall in Bangkok. — AFP

BANGKOK, March 4 (Reuters) - Thailand's economy is in a critical situation, the prime minister's chief of staff said on Monday, stressing a need for measures to tackle household debt, boost tourism and inject stimulus into the economy.

"Figures show we are not in good shape," Prommin Lertsuridej told reporters.

His remarks come as Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin's government pushes to revive Southeast Asia's second-biggest economy, which has suffered from weak exports and a slow recovery from the pandemic compared to regional peers.

The economy unexpectedly contracted in the fourth quarter of 2023 and policymakers have downgraded the growth outlook for this year, adding to pressure on the central bank to give in to the prime minister's near-daily demands for an interest rate cut.

"We are doing everything we can," Prominn said, referring to stimulus measures including visa-free tourism and policies to address household debt that is at a rate of 91% of gross domestic product.

He added the government's annual budget should be approved and ready to spend by next month.

The budget has been on hold since October due to a delay last year in forming a government. (Reporting by Devjyot Ghoshal and Panu Wongcha-um; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Martin Petty)

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