BANGKOK – To cope with economic woes including the new coronavirus outbreak, Thailand’s central bank cuts its policy rate to 1 percent, the lowest since 2000.
The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of Thailand (BOT) decided to lower the benchmark rate at its first meeting of 2020 on Wednesday.
MPC Secretary Titanun Mallikamas said the committee members voted unanimously to cut the policy rate by 0.25 percentage point from 1.25 to 1.00 percent effective immediately.
The MPC viewed that the economy faced downside risks from the coronavirus outbreak, the delayed budget disbursement and the drought that could be more severe than previously assessed, Titinun said.
Trade tensions and geopolitical risks also contributed to high uncertainty affecting Thai economic outlook this year, added Titinun.
The impacts of the coronavirus outbreak would be significant in the first half of this year as it affected the country’s tourism industry, leading the MPC to predict much lower GDP growth than previously forecast at 2.8 percent, he said.
Visitors from China, the biggest source of tourists in Thailand, increased by 4.4% to 10.99 million last year.
The Committee’s decision was an accommodative monetary policy stance that would alleviate the negative impacts, said Titinun.