BANGKOK, March 7 – Thailand’s consumer confidence index in February rose to 74.3 from 72.1 for the previous month, the highest in 19 months since August 2011, according to the Economic and Business Forecasting Centre of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.
Centre director Thanawat Polvichai said consumer sentiment was buoyed by 18.9 per cent growth in the last quarter of 2011 and the central bank’s decision to keep its key interest rate unchanged at 2.75 per cent, 16 per cent export growth in January and 40 per cent import growth also help drive up consumer confidence as well as the rise of the capital market in February by 67 points.
Pointing out the Bt300 minimum wage and the government’s rice pledging scheme as the key factors most affecting consumer confidence, Dr Thanawat said the two factors generate more spending among farmers and workers. In addition, 2.2 million tourist arrivals over the past two months is also a boon to the economy.
The trend of improved economic conditions as well as positive consumer sentiment, if continuing, could see this year’s economy expand by 5.5 per cent, driven by major infrastructure projects in the second half of 2013, Dr Thanawat said.
Regarding negative factors, rising oil prices and the baht appreciation which worries exporters are seen as the main concerns among consumers along with the political situation and the fragile recovery of the global economy, the centre director said.
Worries over possible electricity outages during a disruption to natural gas supplies from Myanmar April 5-14 have lessened after three utilities boosted their power reserves and assured the public that power brownouts are unlikely to happen in key business areas, he said. (