July 21, 2020 / 9:39 AM / 16 days ago

Thailand short-lists two candidates for post of c.bank governor

* PM’s adviser Sethaput seen leading race -media

* New governor faces tough task of reviving economy in crisis

* Gov Veerathai’s five-year term ends in September

*

By Kitiphong Thaichareon and Orathai Sriring

BANGKOK, July 21 (Reuters) - Thailand has short-listed two candidates out of group of six seeking to be the next central bank governor to steer Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy through the coronavirus crisis, the head of the selection committee said on Tuesday.

The new governor will face a tough task of reviving an economy which the Bank of Thailand predicts will shrink by a record 8.1% this year, and with policy rates near zero and high household debt.

Committee head Rangson Sriworasat did not name the selected candidates but told reporters one was an “insider”, referring to a central banker, and the other an “outsider”, or a non-central banker.

BOT Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob’s five-year term ends in September and Deputy Finance Minister Santi Promphat will now choose one of the two candidates to replace him.

Santi is running the ministry after Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana resigned last week.

According to media reports, Sethaput Suthiwart-Narueput, a former World Bank economist and an economic adviser to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is leading the race to be governor.

Sethaput sits on the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee and holds a PhD in economics from Yale University.

Deputy central bank governor Mathee Supapongse is also expected to be on the shortlist. He has worked at the BOT for more than three decades and is in charge of supervising monetary stability and is also a Monetary Policy Committee member.

Another deputy central bank governor, Ronadol Numnonda, and Anusorn Tamajai, head of the economic research centre of Rangsit University, also presented their visions on Tuesday. Two others did not appear for the final round of interviews.

The appointment also needs cabinet and royal approval.

“Finally, the prime minister will decide who will be the new central bank governor as the cabinet will have to approve it,” Rangson said after interviewing four candidates. (Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon and Orathai Sriring Editing by Ed Davies)

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