6 June 2024

Finance Minister Pichai Chunhavajira and governor of Bank of Thailand Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput held a closed-door meeting at the Finance Ministry this morning, reportedly to patch up their differences over monetary and fiscal policies.

Neither of them were available for an interview with a large group of reporters waiting at the ministry after the meeting. Reporters said that they did not notice either of them arriving at the ministry.

At about 11am, two deputy finance ministers, Julapun Amornvivat and Paopoom Rojanasakul, along with Lawaron, the finance permanent secretary, were seen arriving at the ministry.

Paopoom told the media that it was a good opportunity for the minister and governor to exchange their respective economic views, hoping that the ministry and the bank would work in the same direction.

He also reaffirmed the Finance Ministry’s stance, namely that monetary and fiscal policies should serve to stimulate the economy.

The central bank has resisted the government’s repeated calls to cut the policy rate by 25 basis points, from 2.50%.

It also disagrees with the government’s plan to use 500 billion baht from this and next year’s fiscal budgets and to borrow from the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives to fund the “digital wallet” scheme.

It has proposed that the government scale down the project, by providing the 10,000 baht benefit to 15 million financially vulnerable people, instead of 50 million people based on age. This would reduce the cost of the scheme to 150 billion baht.

The government has, however, rejected the proposal.