Mon, Jun 08, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Thai lawmakers urged to seek US$23bn loan

AFP , BANGKOK

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday urged lawmakers to approve a US$23 billion loan later this month to fund an economic stimulus package, saying it would create up to 2 million jobs.

Parliament will vote on whether to go ahead with seeking the loan during an extraordinary session starting on June 15, before the issue moves to the Senate, or upper house, for approval.

The government has said that the 800 billion baht (US$23 billion) loan, mainly from local money markets, would fund a stimulus package worth 1.4 trillion baht over the next three years.

STIMULUS

“This [loan] is very important for stimulating the economy. If we follow the plan we can create jobs for 1.5 million to 2 million people in the next three years,” Abhisit said in his weekly television program.

Thailand’s constitutional court last week ruled unanimously in favor of the government going ahead with the first tranche of the borrowing, following a legal challenge by opposition MPs.

Thailand’s economy entered recession in the first quarter of this year as growth shrank by a bigger-than-expected 7.1 percent because of tumbling exports, the worst since the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

PARED GROWTH

The government has also revised down its growth forecast for this year to between minus 2.5 percent and minus 3.5 percent.

The Cabinet endorsed plans for the borrowing — part of a so-called “Strong Thailand 2012” scheme — last month.

Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said 40 percent of the stimulus package would go to logistical systems, 17 percent to water resources, 10 percent to improvements in education and the rest on public health and tourism.

Thailand announced an initial 117 billion baht stimulus package in January.

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