July 11, 2018 / 11:15 AM / 4 months ago

Thai junta pushes for faster public investment as growth seen slowing

BANGKOK, July 11 (Reuters) - Thailand’s military-led government is pushing for faster public investment spending, which has missed expectations following the adoption of tougher rules on procurement, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said on Wednesday.

About 273 billion baht ($8.2 billion) was disbursed for investment projects from October to June, the first nine months of the current fiscal year that ends in September, or less than half the total budget of 676.5 billion baht.

“This week I will meet with state agencies on how to accelerate disbursements,” Somkid told reporters, but gave no details of concrete measures he expected to take.

The junta has ramped up investment projects to help drive domestic activity, but the stricter procurement rules introduced in the second half of 2017 to clamp down on graft have made it difficult for bureaucrats to spend.

That does not bode well for Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, whose growth, analysts say, is expected to slow from the first quarter’s figure of 4.8 percent, the best in five years.

The government forecasts growth of 4.5 percent this year, up from 3.9 percent last year, counting on exports, despite rising global protectionism. ($1=33.28 baht) (Reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak Writing by Orathai Sriring Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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