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BANGKOK, June 10 -- Thailand’s parliament today passed a bill to allow the government to borrow 500 billion baht (RM66 billion) to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic as the kingdom is fighting its worst outbreak yet.
The bill was passed with 270 votes in favour and three abstaining from a total of 469 members of parliament present.
The Finance Ministry said the loan contracts must be signed by Sept 30 next year.
Of the total 500 billion baht, 300 billion baht (RM39.6 billion) will be for relief measures, 170 billion baht for reviving the economy and 30 billion baht for tackling the outbreak including purchasing drugs, vaccines, equipment as well as research and development (R&D) of locally produced vaccines.
With the new borrowing, the government has 1.25 trillion baht to help alleviate the economy compared to 1.9 trillion baht in 2020.
Earlier, Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said the cash injection would hit the target and the government would keep public debt at less than 60 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).
Local media reported that the new borrowing would help the economy to expand further between 1.5 and 2.5 per cent in 2021 and 2022.
The National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) has lowered its 2021 economic growth forecast to 1.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent with the country facing an uphill battle against the third wave of COVID-19.
The Finance Ministry has also cut its 2021 GDP growth forecast to 2.3 per cent while Bank of Thailand is predicting that the GDP might grow only between one and two per cent this year.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan o-cha said the country is in critical need of the loan because nobody knew when the COVID-19 crisis would bottom out.
Over the last 24 hours, Thailand recorded 2,310 new COVID-19 cases and 43 fatalities, bringing the total infections in the kingdom to 187,538 and 1,375 deaths to date.
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