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

    Ethiopia's Anti-terrorism Law: Security or Silencing Dissent?

    Yonatan Tesfaye was detained in December 2015 on charges under Ethiopia's Anti-Terrorism Proclamation; eleven statements from his Facebook page were used as evidence

    Egypt Orders Trial for Journalists Charged With Harboring Reporters

    Order targets journalists' union chief Yehia Qalash, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim for allegedly spreading false news, harboring fugitive colleagues

    Nigerian Oil Production Falls as Militant Attacks Take Toll

    Country no longer Africa's petroleum king due to renewed militancy in its oil-producing region

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.8965
    JPY
    USD
    111.01
    GBP
    USD
    0.6830
    CAD
    USD
    1.3026
    INR
    USD
    67.196

    Rates may not be current.