Nationwide flooding costs Bt60-90 billion in initial losses


Thailand’s initial losses in nationwide flooding were estimated at Bt60-90 billion or 0.6-0.9 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to Finance Minister Teerachai Puwanartnaranubala.

The minister made his announcement after meeting with Commerce Minister Kittirat Na-Ranong and other officials dealing with the emergency.

A loss of some Bt60 billion, or 0.6 percent of GDP, was indicated by The Bank of Thailand; however, the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) assessed the loss at Bt80-90 billion or up to 0.9 percent of GDP.

Concerned agencies must evaluate the cost of damage again as flooding continues and the cost might be lower than projected by the NESDB, the finance minister said.

Somchai Sujjapongse, director of the Fiscal Policy Office, said the current flooding is likely to shrink gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2011 to 3.7 percent from the 4.5 percent forecast in June before the flood crisis.

He said as of Oct 9, flooding caused losses to Thailand’s economy of about Bt69 billion and a 0.6 percent drop in GDP. Combined with a 0.2 percent fall resulting from economic problems in Europe and the US, overall GDP is likely to fall by 0.8 percent. Even more damage could occur if the flooding is prolonged. The worst scenario can be the damage cost as high as Bt120 billion.

Flooding will also negatively impact tax collection in 2012 with a loss of about Bt12 billion. However, Somchai believed that consumer purchases will rise and income will be higher than losses due to the government’s economic stimulus measures, the procurement of machinery and flood rehabilitation activities.

Foreign investors will not move their production bases to other countries because losses incurred from natural disaster, not from complications in Thai economic fundamentals or political difficulties.

Teerachai added the finance ministry has eased some regulations to facilitate the release of some budget spending to help flood victims earlier.

Meanwhile, Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Co-operatives (BAAC) manager Luck Wajananawat said about 8.8 million rai of farmland has been damaged by flooding.

The losses include 7.3 million rai of rice paddies, 1.4 million rai of other crops, 140,000 million rai, nearly 400,000 livestock and about 9.6 million poultry.

In the initial assessment, over 300,000 farmers are affected by debts of Bt34.4 billion.

The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) estimated its loss as a result of countrywide flooding at Bt46 million.

Deputy Transport Minister Pol Lt-Gen Chat Kuldilok said flooding continues to affect the country’s railways, resulting in the suspension indefinitely for some northern routes in Lop Buri and Nakhon Sawan provinces, where the SRT reports a large number of flood victims are using the railways as their shelter.

The Ministry of Transport responded by ordering portable toilets, providing tents and four carriages as protection and offering shelter to flood victims.

Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) Director Opart Petchmunee said flooding has not affected BMTA routes as of last Monday, but water situations throughout Bangkok are being closely monitored.