Government is confident economic growth this year will hit 7%


BANGKOK, Jan 7 — Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Kittirat Na Ranong affirmed Thailand’s economy remained strong, despite the country facing a massive flood crisis late last year, and he was confident the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could expand more than 7 per cent this year.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Saturday was absent from her weekly TV and radio programme, “Yingluck Government Meets the People,” but assigned Mr Kittirat, who also represented the premier as chair of the Strategic Committee for Water Resources Management, along with the Strategic Committee for Reconstruction and Future Development chairman Virabongsa Ramangkura, to clarify the water management plan and Thailand’s economic prospects in 2012.

Mr Kittirat said that he believed that this year could be a golden year for Thailand despite the flood crisis because there would be investment and development to make up for the damages caused by the one of the worst floods in recent history.

More investment would be carried out in flood prevention and response as well as to fight drought, so employment could increase, he said, adding that he was confident that Thailand could achieve 7 per cent GDP growth in 2012.

Mr Kittirat said that the master plan for updated water management programme could be implemented immediately when the 2012 budget bill was approved by Parliament, with more than Bt29 billion to be initially spent on the repair and rehabilitation of water sluice gates and dykes that were damaged by the flood.

Moreover, he said, legislation would be promulgated to mobilise more than Bt350 billion in funds to spend on the management of 25 river basins.

Mr Virabongsa, former finance minister, said that since he assumed the position, he visited many countries including England and Japan to hold talks with insurance companies, investors, business leaders and leaders to assure them about Thailand’s rehabilitation plan and preparation to tackle future flood.

He said that business leaders have confirmed that they would not move their production bases from Thailand, but wanted the government’s assurance that there would be no further flood crisis.

Mr Virabongsa said he has convinced them that there would be no more disasters like the flood crisis of last year.