Thailand approves $ 6.9 billion borrowing plan for COVID-19 shortfall

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* Revenue collection is 11.2% below target in October-May

* Public debt at 51.6% of GDP at the end of September

* Cabinet approves more subsidized loans worth 114 billion baht

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BANGKOK, Aug. 18 (Reuters) – The Thai government on Tuesday approved a borrowing plan of 214 billion baht ($ 6.87 billion) for a shortfall in the current fiscal year through September, due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, a government official said.

The borrowing is part of an adjusted debt management plan that now projects net new debt of around 1.66 trillion baht, up from around 1.5 trillion baht, plus some debt reductions, the said. Deputy government spokesperson Rachada Dhnadirek during a briefing.

The government took Thai Airways debt out of the public debt plan because the carrier is no longer a state-owned enterprise, she said.

With the new plan, the outstanding public debt will amount to 8.21 trillion baht, or 51.64 percent of GDP, at the end of the current fiscal year through September 30, Rachada said.

Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy contracted 12.2 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, the strongest since 1998, during the Asian financial crisis, as the epidemic hit tourism and domestic activity.

The finance ministry said earlier that the government’s net revenue collection in the first eight months of the fiscal year (October-May) was 1.5 trillion baht, 11.2 percent below the target. , due to the impact of the epidemic and tax relief measures.

The cabinet also approved soft loans worth 114 billion baht to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and individuals, finance ministry official Lavaron Sangsnit said in a statement.

“Although the government has introduced relief measures to mitigate the impact of the epidemic, some SME operators and groups of people still do not have access to finance,” he said.

The government introduced a 1.9 trillion baht ($ 61.19 billion) program to mitigate the impact of the outbreak, but the withdrawal has been slow.

$ 1 = 31.13 baht Reported by and Orathai Sriring and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Martin Petty

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