Thai c.bank minutes: substantial risks to growth from unrest

BANGKOK Tue Feb 4, 2014 9:25pm EST

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BANGKOK Feb 5 (Reuters) - The Bank of Thailand's monetary policy committee (MPC) thought risks to economic growth had increased substantially from political unrest and that the impact could be bigger if it was prolonged, according to the minutes of a Jan. 22 policy meeting.

"The committee agreed that the downside risks to growth have increased substantially. Some members noted that any benefits of global growth pick-up this year on Thai exports and tourism could be restrained by the ongoing political situation," the minutes published on Wednesday said.

"Growth impact could be more pronounced if a prolonged unrest were to cause a switch of export orders to other countries, with potential knock-on effect on domestic spending," they said.

At the meeting, the MPC voted 4-3 to leave the policy rate unchanged at 2.25 percent, a three-year low. A majority of economists had expected the rate to be cut by a quarter of a point.

Three members voted for a cut of 25 basis points, seeing a greater role for monetary policy in shoring up private confidence and supporting the economy, given higher risks to growth, the minutes said.

Thailand held a general election on Sunday but anti-government protests disrupted voting in a fifth of constituencies.

In November, soon after the protests began, the MPC unexpectedly voted 6-1 to cut the policy rate by 25 basis points.

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