THE Royal Gazette today (Oct. 5) announced His Majesty the King’s royal command appointing Arkhom Termpittayapaisith the new finance minister.
This appointment by His Majesty the King, with the royal command dated October 1, 2020, was made by virtue of Section 158 of the Constitution.
Arkhom, born on July 25, 1956, is a Thai civil servant and politician who served as Transport Minister from August 19, 2015 to July 10, 2019.
He obtained a master’s degree in economics from Williams College, US, in 1983 after graduating in economics from Thammasat University in 1977.
He replaces Predee Daochai who quit as finance minister just 26 days after assuming office on September 1 this year.
The new finance minister faces strong challenges as seen by an analysis by Kasikorn Research Center, published on August 28 this year, saying that while the Thai economy may have seen its trough in the second quarter on a QoQ basis, GDP for 2020 is projected to see a 10-percent contraction.
The Thai economy is likely to show a U-shaped recovery compared to the same period of last year. The food and beverage, electrical appliance, hotel and restaurant sectors are still cause for concern.
Ms. Nattaporn Triratanasirikul, KResearch Assistant Managing Director, said that Thailand’s economy has been mired in uncertainty in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, strengthening baht and domestic political issues.
KResearch has therefore revised downward its Thai economic projection for 2020 to minus 10 percent, from the previous minus 6 percent. Given the fluid situation, any economic recovery may be U-shaped.
Thai policymakers face a dilemma in determining how to tackle the economic crisis. On one hand, they must carefully consider the need for additional stimulus measures that are both timely and sufficient to sustain the economy – now at the base of the U shape – so that it can emerge from the doldrums sooner rather than later.
On the other hand, these measures, if implemented, come with a hefty cost as they may balloon the public debt. Moreover, the possible resurgence of Covid-19 poses another challenge as the country is gradually reopened.
Although the government has future spending plans in place, they are primarily geared towards economic rehabilitation and job creation. Therefore, public debt is not a cause for concern at this time. Regarding monetary policy, the Monetary Policy Committee may not cut its policy rate anytime soon and may opt to respond to specific events as it deems appropriate, especially after the debt moratorium measure expires in 3Q2020.
Top: New Finance Minister Arkhom. Photo: National News Bureau of Thailand