Thai PM: 2012 GDP likely to grow 4.5-5.5%

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BANGKOK, Nov 9 – Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Wednesday said the country’s economic growth next year could expand within the range of 4.5- 5.5 per cent thanks to the government’s post-flood rehabilitation plan which would play a key role in driving the economic recovery.

The premier addressed a meeting of the House of Representatives or the Lower House on her government’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2012 of Bt2.38 trillion (US$77.2 billion) in spending, of which Bt130 billion is allocated for flood recovery and rehabilitation.

“Economic growth next year will still feel the pinch of the tremendous late 2011 flood-induced damage,” Ms Yingluck conceded, “but the government’s rehabilitation plan as well as the public and private sector measures to help those affected would play a key role in driving the economic recovery, investment and employment as well as boosting domestic demand to expand steadily.”

The inflation rate is projected to rise within a range of 3-4 per cent, she said.

However, Ms Yingluck’s predecessor and main opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva argued that the government’s proposed budget bill failed to reflect the country’s real economic condition and urged it to scrap the populist policies pledged during its election campaign.

Mr Abhisit also voiced concern and questioned whether the Bt120 billion allocated for post-flood rehabilitation could be well-spent in a transparent manner.

“The government lacks a clear strategy and planning with no explanation on how the implementation of its key policies would contribute to the country’s recovery, namely the rice mortgage scheme, tax rebate schemes for first-time homebuyers and first-time carbuyers,” the Democrat party leader said.

He urged the government to review the priorities in its budget allocation in time of crisis.

“The government should focus on a strategy to ensure that people would get back to their normal life in parallel with rebuilding manufacturing industries,” Mr Abhisit said.

Meanwhile, the Flood Relief Operations Centre (FROC) reported that as of Wednesday, 529 persons had died in flood-related deaths.

Two were still missing while 2,868,061 people were affected, as well as 24,110,000 livestock.

The flood response agency added 11,190,000 rai of farmlands were damaged by floodwater, 265 roads are impassable and 12 railway routes had to suspend services.

The remaining submerged 24 provinces are Bangkok, Prachin Buri, Nakhon Nayok, Chachoengsao, Kalasin, Maha Sarakham, Roi Et, Si Sa Ket, Ubon Ratchathani, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom, Suphan Buri, Saraburi, Lop Buri, Ayutthaya, Ang Thong, Sing Buri, Chai Nat, Uthai Thani, Nakhon Sawan and Phichit.