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January 13, 2009

Thai govt plans extra budget to boost consumers spending
Thailand's planned 100-120 billion baht ($2.9-3.4 billion) mid-year fiscal budget will be mostly used to encourage Thais to spend more to boost economic growth.

The supplementary budget, due for debate in parliament in late January, is earmarked to benefit about 10 million consumers, including the elderly, families with children in school and low-salaried workers.

"Our idea is that the additional budget will allow us to put more disposable money in pockets of people who need it to meet their spending needs," Reuters quoted Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij as telling TV Channel 3.

The additional budget is part of a 300 billion baht stimulus package being worked out by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who has pledged to try to ward off a looming recession caused by the global economic downturn.

Last week, Abhisit said the Bank of Thailand expected the economy to grow only between 0.5 to 2.5 percent in 2009, down from an estimated 4.0 percent in 2008.
The cabinet would review details of the mid-year budget on Tuesday, Korn said.

"Thailand's current low sovereign debt gives us plenty of room to spend more fiscally without seriously compromising our financial disciplines," the minister said.

"Every country now is injecting more liquidity into its economy. What we are doing is no different from others," he said.

The central bank is expected to opt for its second hefty rate cut in two months on Wednesday, prompted by a sharp drop in inflation in December to 0.4 percent from 2.2 percent in November and from a 10-year high of 9.2 percent in July.

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