BANGKOK May 19 Thailand's military government
on Friday asked state-owned companies to accelerate investment
spending after having disbursed just a quarter of the budget
allotted for this fiscal year, the junta's latest effort to
sustain economic momentum.
Southeast Asia's second-largest economy grew slightly more
than expected in the March quarter, up 1.3 percent on the
quarter and 3.3 percent on the year, led by exports and
consumption. But it has lagged regional peers in recent years.
Government spending is crucial to driving the economy
because private investment has yet to recover, Deputy Prime
Minister Somkid Jatusripitak told reporters.
"We want to make sure the economy will continue growing," he
said, adding that first-quarter growth was also helped by state
State enterprises spent a combined 82 billion baht ($2.38
billion), or about 24 percent of the total of 339 billion baht,
in the first seven months of the current fiscal year, which
started in October.
However, the State Enterprise Policy Office is sticking by
its target of at least 95 percent disbursement, Director-General
Ekniti Nitithanprapas told reporters.
Among the slow spenders, the State Railway of Thailand had
disbursed only 14.1 billion baht during the period from October
to April, compared to its total budget of 59.7 billion baht, he
Airports of Thailand spent 2.75 billion baht during
the period, versus its budget of 11.8 billion, he said.
Big-ticket government infrastructure projects worth billions
of dollars have been slow getting off the ground.
The government expects to spend between 160 billion and 170
billion baht on infrastructure projects this year, Finance
Minister Apisak Tantivorawong said last month.
(Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)