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8 June 2009

Thailand seeks $22 billion to prop up economy

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Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has urged lawmakers later this month to approve a 22-billion-dollar loan to fund an economic stimulus package, saying it would create up to two million jobs, AFP reported.

Parliament will vote on whether to go ahead with seeking the loan during an extraordinary session starting on June 15, before the issue moves to the Senate, or upper house for approval.

The government has said that the 800-billion-baht loan, mainly from local money markets, will fund a stimulus package worth 1.4 trillion baht over the next three years.

"This (loan) is very important for stimulating the economy. If we follow the plan we can create jobs for 1.5 million to two million people in the next three years," Abhisit said in his weekly television programme.

Thailand's constitutional court last week ruled unanimously in favor of the government going ahead with the first tranche of the borrowing, following a legal challenge by opposition MPs.

Thailand's economy entered recession in the first quarter of this year as growth shrank by a bigger-than-expected 7.1 percent due to tumbling exports, the worst since the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

The government has also revised down its growth forecast for 2009 to between minus 2.5 and minus 3.5 percent. The cabinet endorsed plans for the borrowing -- part of a so-called "Strong Thailand 2012" scheme -- in May.

Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said 40 percent of the stimulus package will go on logistical systems, 17 percent on water resources, 10 percent on improvements in education and the rest on public health and tourism. Thailand announced an initial 117-billion-baht stimulus package in January.


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