News / Economy

Thai Junta Focuses on Economy

Farmers rearrange a pile of rice after dumping them on the ground outside a Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives in Bangkok, Thailand, during a rally demanding the Yingluck administration resolve delays in payment from the rice pledging scheme, March 11, 2014.
Farmers rearrange a pile of rice after dumping them on the ground outside a Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives in Bangkok, Thailand, during a rally demanding the Yingluck administration resolve delays in payment from the rice pledging scheme, March 11, 2014.
Ron Corben
Thai military and business groups hope to revive the country’s battered economy, now in recession due in large part to more than six months of political turmoil and violent protests.
 
In a step aimed at winning public support and bolstering the economy, the military government this week moved quickly to pay some $3 billion in overdue payments to some 800,000 rice farmers.
 
The money is from a controversial scheme by the former Pheu Thai Party-led government that paid above market prices for rice. Opposition groups had charged the rice price support scheme was abused and open to corruption. The government struggled to make payments last year as its coffers ran dry.
 
Asian Development Bank (ADB) senior economist  Luxman Attapich said restoring confidence, and making the payments to farmers was a key step to short term economic recovery.
 
"We need both consumer confidence and investor confidence. At least paying of obligation to rice farmers is a good sign that this administration is honoring all the obligations of the previous government. And when farmers receive income it helps their multiplying (spending) effects into consumption. So that is good for the economy," said Luxman.
 
The Thai economy has slipped into recession in recent months as the political conflict drained confidence amid ongoing street protests and growing fears among investors and tourists that violence could escalate.
 
The military government says it is banking on political and economic reforms to stabilize the country before elections return the country to democratic rule. No time table for a new poll has been set.
 
But major industry groups this week set out plans to reform the economy reduce economic inequalities and address corruption and regulatory reforms.
 
Supavud Saicheua, an economist and director of Phatra Securities, said the economy should revive over the coming months with growth moving to around two percent by the end of 2014. But Supavud said political stability was the key to longer term recovery.
 
"Medium term I think you do still have to find political stability that comes from reconciliation. And we still don't know how that reconciliation process will proceed and how successful it will be. Foreign investors are cautious, given Thailand has had a history of political divisions that have deepened and that's why we needed the coup," he said.
 
Protesters scuffle with Thai soldiers during an anti-coup demonstration at the Victory Monument in Bangkok, May 28, 2014.Protesters scuffle with Thai soldiers during an anti-coup demonstration at the Victory Monument in Bangkok, May 28, 2014.
x
Protesters scuffle with Thai soldiers during an anti-coup demonstration at the Victory Monument in Bangkok, May 28, 2014.
Protesters scuffle with Thai soldiers during an anti-coup demonstration at the Victory Monument in Bangkok, May 28, 2014.

Vikas Kawatra, a senior analyst with investment brokerage house SCB Securities, said despite talk of reform, foreign investors were still adopting a "wait and see" approach on how events will unfold.  Thailand has faced 19 coups or coups attempts since it became a constitutional monarchy in 1932.
 
"To foreigners they are still looking at it as a drill. We'll go the motions; year, year and a half and things will look good, slightly better than they are today. [But] I don't think anyone is expecting the elected or non-elected government - to make any radical changes to the entire process," he said.
 
Under the changes announced this week by the military government included a new policy advisory body of technocrats and bankers to oversee security, the economy and the law.

You May Like

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8978
JPY
USD
119.24
GBP
USD
0.6567
CAD
USD
1.3230
INR
USD
66.495

Rates may not be current.