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March 23, 2009

Thai PM warns of rising unemployment
Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva warned Sunday that the number of jobless could nearly double to one million people this year because of global and local financial turmoil.

AFP reported that Thailand's export-driven economy has been hard-hit by the global financial meltdown, with gross domestic product (GDP) growth expected at minus 1.0 and zero percent this year.

Abhisit's government has launched a number of stimulus measures and agreed to borrow money from overseas donors, but Thailand is still expecting a GDP drop of at least four percent in the first quarter of 2009.

"We will borrow money to stimulate the economy. If we do nothing, more people will be jobless which will impact the economy more seriously," Abhisit said at the launch of a career fair near Bangkok.

Asked how many people could be unemployed this year, the premier replied: "It is estimated at one million, at least."

The Bank of Thailand has previously forecast that 1.07 million people -- or 2.8 percent of the total workforce -- would lose their jobs if the Thai economy registered zero growth this year.

Thailand's unemployment rate was 1.4 percent in 2008, the National Statistical Office of Thailand website shows. The kingdom has suffered as its key export partners in the United States, Europe and Japan cut orders on the back of world financial woes.

Thailand has also been beset by crippling domestic upheaval, with a protest group shuttering Bangkok's two airports for a week late last year, costing the kingdom billions of dollars. The Thai economy grew by 2.6 percent in 2008 as a whole -- the slowest rate in seven years.

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