May 12, 2020 / 9:37 AM / 19 days ago

Thai cabinet approves $12.5 bln spending plan to help virus-hit economy

BANGKOK, May 12 (Reuters) - Thailand’s cabinet approved on Tuesday a plan to spend 400 billion baht ($12.45 billion) to create jobs and strengthen southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, which appears headed for recession because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The plan is part of a larger package of measures worth 1.9 trillion baht as Thailand’s central bank has warned the economy could contract 5.3% this year for its worst shrinkage since the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis.

“We will try to get the money into the system in July or the third quarter of this year,” Thosaporn Sirisumphand, secretary general of state planning agency, the National Economic and Social Development Council, told a briefing.

The government will not focus on boosting quick economic growth but rather on ensuring security and sustainability, he added.

Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said the government planned spending to help lift community activity and aid jobless workers to return to the farm sector.

Up to 10 million people, or 26% of the total workforce, may lose their jobs due to outbreak, the Thai Chamber of Commerce says.

Thailand reported two virus infections but no deaths on Tuesday, taking its tally to 3,017 and 56 deaths since its outbreak started in January. ($1=32.12 baht) (Reporting by Orathai Sriring Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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