Thailand

The Bank of Thailand has set guidelines for minimum assistance that financial institutions must offer to debtors to ease their financial burden amid the pandemic, effective from April 1, the Bangkok Post reported. Veerathai Santiprabhob, the central bank's governor, said the coronavirus outbreak has affected individuals and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on a far-reaching scale, leading to the need for a guideline. "A policy rate cut is insufficient to help borrowers," he said.

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The Bank of Thailand has demanded all financial institutions continue providing seven financial services, including deposits, money withdrawals, fund transfers, payments, cash management and settlement systems, in an effort to avoid potential coronavirus-related disruption, the Bangkok Post reported.

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The poorer debt serviceability seen earlier among small businesses is spilling over to medium-sized enterprises, suggesting more vulnerabilities in the financial system, according to the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting minutes from earlier this month, the Bangkok Post reported. Risks in the period ahead have increased as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, delayed government spending and the intensifying drought, the MPC said.

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Krungthai Bank (KTB) could be required to set aside higher loan-loss provisions to deal with a potential bad-loan uptick this year as the deteriorating debt-servicing ability of clients is further hit by the sagging economy, the Bangkok Post reported. The bank has implemented several financial assistance measures, including debt restructuring required by the Bank of Thailand, to keep customers afloat during this difficult period, and these aid measures could weaken the bank's asset quality, said Payong Srivanich, KTB's president.

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The Bank of Thailand cut its benchmark interest rate to a record low as the coronavirus outbreak, a stalled government budget and bad drought imperil economic growth, Bloomberg News reported. The central bank lowered the policy rate by 25 basis points to 1% on Wednesday in a unanimous decision, the third cut in its last five meetings. Fourteen of 29 analysts in a Bloomberg survey predicted the decision, with the rest expecting no change. “They have come to terms with a continued slowdown this year.

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Thailand’s central bank will take further steps to ease restrictions on capital outflows in coming months as it tries to curb gains in the baht, Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob said, Bloomberg News reported. The Bank of Thailand plans to increase the amount of proceeds exporters can hold overseas, liberalize foreign-currency deposit accounts and take steps to enable insurance companies to invest more abroad, Veerathai said in an interview Wednesday at his Bangkok office.

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Thailand's cabinet on Tuesday approved loan measures worth 260 billion baht (6.54 billion pounds)to help small and medium-size companies, affected by weak exports amid global trade tensions and a strong currency, a finance ministry official said, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story. That includes soft loans worth 195 billion baht and 65 billion baht in loan guarantees to be arranged by state banks, Lavaron Sangsnit, head of the finance ministry's fiscal policy office, told a briefing.

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BAAC Rejigs to Focus On Communities

The state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) is set to revamp its branches' tasks to focus on community business development to boost the income of rural people and step up efforts to fight poverty, the Bangkok Post reported. Some 20% of the bank's 20,000 employees across the country will prioritise development of community business and small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) farming, said president Apirom Sukprasert.

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Thailand is set to end 2019 at the weakest pace of growth in five years and little to cheer about next year, as South-east Asia’s second-largest economy faces headwinds from global trade tensions, a surging baht and rising political risks, Malay Mail reported. The export-reliant country has been sharply hit by the Sino-US trade conflict. Exports may fall 3.3 per cent in 2019 before rising just 0.5 per cent in 2020, according to the Bank of Thailand (BOT).

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Debt Steady From Weak Housing Sales

Thailand's household debt in the second half this year has slowed from the first half thanks to weak housing demand, excess supply in the property market and tighter lending from financial institutions, the Bangkok Post reported. Car loans slowed down because of lower car and motorcycle sales, while most financial institutions retained strict scrutiny for credit lending, according to a report to the cabinet yesterday by state planning unit National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC). Yet loans for other personal consumption increased, mainly for credit cards.

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