News Column

Banks told to slacken loan rules

July 5, 2014

Bangkok Post, Thailand

July 05--Junta chief Prayuth Chan-ocha has pledged urgent measures to drive economic growth beyond 2%, with the focus on giving low-income earners and small- and medium-sized enterprises easier access to bank loans.

Speaking on his weekly Return Happiness to the People TV show on Friday, Gen Prayuth said the Bank of Thailand has estimated that the country's economy will grow by only 1.5% this year.

But the NCPO will try to stimulate push that growth beyond 2%, with one measure to help achieve this being to boost the incomes of people who earn low salaries, Gen Prayuth said.

He said banks such as the Government Savings Bank, the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives and the SME Bank will be asked to launch projects to provide loans to people and entrepreneurs so they can obtain funds to make investments, which in turn will help boost growth.

The junta also plans to boost exports while trying to maintain the stability of the baht to prevent it strengthening too much, Gen Prayuth said.

The tourism industry is a major money-making sector and efforts are being made to repair the country's image and woo foreign tourists back, he added.

The coup leader said a check of the 2014 fiscal budget has shown that more than 50 billion baht has been allocated to several ministries and agencies, but they still have not come up with any projects to show for the funds.

The junta will consider whether the 50 billion baht can be reallocated to finance other more urgent projects that still lack funding, Gen Prayuth said.

Regarding flood prevention and water management projects, Gen Prayuth said ministries responsible for the projects will be asked to allocate about 10 billion baht each to implement projects.

On the issue of the national reform council, Gen Prayuth said the council will be made up of members from across the political divide and members of all sectors in society.

He also defended the NCPO's transfers of many high-ranking state officials, saying the transfers were for the sake of "appropriateness".

"The NCPO has no intention of clinging on to power or swapping vested interest groups. The NCPO is trying to tackle conflicts of interest, combat graft and corruption," Gen Prayuth said.

Regarding measures to resolve the violence in the three southernmost provinces, Gen Prayuth said a committee for the implementation of solutions for the southern provinces will integrate action plans and budget spending from the Internal Security Operation Command, the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre and ministries involved in security affairs.

The move is intended to boost efficiency in efforts to solve the southern unrest, Gen Prayuth said, adding that peace talks with separatists will continue under the framework of the constitution and the law.

He said Malaysia is still needed as a facilitator in the peace process.

Meanwhile, NCPO deputy chief Prajin Juntong says the junta will continue to work closely with the interim government under the provisional constitution which is expected to be unveiled by the end of this month.

ACM Prajin, who is in charge of economic affairs for the junta, said yesterday the plan for unity and reform is now entering its second phase, in which an interim charter will be enacted, and a national legislative assembly, national reform council and interim government formed.

In principle, the junta, the national legislative body, the reform council and the interim government will work together under the interim charter.

He said the junta will remain in place and work with all of them until it completes its tasks and achieves its aim of fostering unity, bringing about reform and returning the country to electoral democracy.

"The NCPO will remain and will have to continue helping with the work for a while," ACM Prajin said.

Regarding the draft of the interim charter, he refused to discuss the details, saying the draft charter had yet to be finalised.

The NCPO's legal advisory panel was working on putting the finishing touches to the draft before presenting it for consideration.

If it is approved, it will then be submitted to His Majesty the King for royal endorsement, ACM Prajin said.


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Source: Bangkok Post (Thailand)

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