(Removes extraneous letters from headline)
* Bank of Thailand left rates unchanged at April meeting
* Says policy must support economy during political crisis
* But debt of households, small firms needs monitoring
BANGKOK, May 7 Monetary policy should remain
accommodative in Thailand to help the economy at a time of
political crisis although there was less scope for further rate
cuts, the central bank said on Wednesday, and it again sounded a
warning about household debt.
Its monetary policy committee left the benchmark policy rate
at 2.00 percent at a meeting on April 23 after a quarter-point
cut at the previous meeting on March 12.
The economy has slumped because of political unrest since
November. Anti-government protesters disrupted a general
election in February, which was then annulled, and the country
is being run by a caretaker government with limited powers.
The Constitutional Court is widely expected to find Prime
Minister Yingluck Shinawatra guilty of abuse of power later on
Wednesday and she would have to step down.
"The committee deemed prolonged political uncertainties to
be the main cause for higher downside risks to growth, while
room for further policy accommodation was diminishing," the Bank
of Thailand said in minutes of the April meeting published on
It has expressed concern frequently in recent months about
the high level of household debt and in the minutes it said the
debt-servicing ability of low-income households and small and
medium-sized companies needed monitoring as this could
deteriorate further because of the economy slowdown.
It has said that growth this year would fall short of its
latest forecast of 2.7 percent. In October last year, before the
protests flared up, it had forecast 4.8 percent growth for this
In the minutes, it said "the economy should be able to
resume its normal growth next year".
Despite the debt problems, it said the banking system
remained sound, noting banks had raised loan loss provisions and
"strengthened their capital buffer".
Financial institutions had tightened credit standards,
particularly for personal loans, and offered customers help in
servicing their debt, it added.
(Reporting by Alan Raybould; Editing by Kim Coghill and Simon