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Thailand plans at least $7.3 billion stimulus to support economy - finance minister

Thailand plans at least $7.3 billion stimulus to support economy - finance minister
FILE PHOTO: Cars pass a Skytrain (Bangkok Mass Transit System) construction site in Bangkok, Thailand May 13, 2018. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun -
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SOE ZEYA TUN(Reuters)
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BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand is planning a stimulus package worth at least 225 billion baht (6 billion pounds), including providing support for farmers and tourism, its finance minister said on Friday.

Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy expanded just 2.8% in the first quarter, the weakest annual pace in more than four years, as exports – a key growth driver – have declined amid rising trade tensions and a strong baht <THB=TH>.

The package – being discussed by finance and economic officials before being presented to the cabinet next week – include subsidies, soft loans and farm price guarantee for farmers, worth a combined about 210 billion baht, Uttama Savanayana announced in a post on Facebook.

The government will guarantee rice prices at 10,000-15,000 baht per tonne, cassava and rubber prices at 60 baht per kg, and oil palm prices at 4 baht per kg, he said.

It will provide cash handouts for domestic travel worth 15 billion baht, and financial assistance for low-income earners and smaller businesses, Uttama said. The cash handouts of 1,500 baht each will be given to 10 million people.

The measures are expected to generate cash flow of at least 200 billion baht in the economy in the second half of the year, he said.

“The government is confident that these measures will help ease people’s hardship and the economy to handle any global economic impact,” Uttama said.

Thailand’s GDP growth in the second quarter, due on Monday, is expected to come in at a slower pace of 2.4% from a year earlier.

Last week, the central bank said 2019 growth might be less than its forecast of 3.3%, after last year’s 4.1% expansion.

(Reporting by Orathai Sriring and Kitiphong Thaichareon; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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