2 Stimulus Packages Planned to Salvage Economy Sickened by Virus

Boats are docked in Krabi province on April 16, 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

BANGKOK (Xinhua) — Thailand’s Ministry of Finance on Wednesday proposed to the Center for Economic Situation Administration (CESA) two stimulus packages aimed at reviving a grim economy set in the last quarter of the year.

The ministry had agreed to roll out the “shim-shop-chai” (Taste-Shop-Spend) scheme, revamped in co-pay form, and the “shop-chuai-chart” (Shop to Help the Nation) scheme, with cash refunds or tax deductions for shoppers, said the ministry’s permanent-secretary Prasong Poontaneat.

The “Shop to Help the Nation” scheme will target shoppers and taxpayers with purchasing power and to spend more, said Prasong.

The two stimulus packages, plus the reopening of the country to selected groups of foreign tourists, will hopefully stimulate the economy for the final quarter of the year which, in turn, will help reduce the full year’s economic contraction, Prasong said.

Thailand, like most of the emerging market economies, is betting on an expansive fiscal policy to cushion the blow from the COVID-19 outbreak that had devastated its tourism and exports.

The tax breaks will come on top of the 51 billion baht (1.6 billion U.S. dollars) cash handouts approved by the cabinet last week that’s targeted at 24 million of the low-income groups and welfare cardholders.

The Bank of Thailand last week estimated that it would take about two years for Thailand to pick itself up to the pre-pandemic economic level.

Both the central bank and the ministry earlier had predicted Thailand’s gross domestic product to shrink by 8.5 percent heavily hit by the pandemic.