23 May 2024

A group of Thai economists have launched a signature campaign to rally support for the Bank of Thailand and its governor, Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput, in the light of ongoing disputes with the government.

Thai economists who wish to join the campaign have until this Saturday,” said Nipon Poapongsakorn, chairman of the Thai Economics Association and distinguished fellow at the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI).

The association plans to issue a statement laying out the ongoing conflicts between the central bank and the political administration.

The statement, to be signed by supporters of the campaign, will also express support for the BOT and its governor.

The association will also host a seminar on the matter, tentatively scheduled for June 28, at the BOT’s headquarters.

The campaign comes amid conflicts between the government and the central bank, in which Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has cited sluggish economic growth and continued inflation to pressure the BOT into cutting interest rates to stimulate the economy.

The prime minister and his allies also claim that the economy is in “crisis” and urgent action is needed.

Sethaput, the central bank governor, insists, however, that the economy is gradually recovering and is in need of structural, rather than monetary, support.

The most recent pressure on the BOT came from Paetongtarn Shinawatra, leader of the ruling Pheu Thai party, who publicly claimed that the central bank’s independence is an obstacle in resolving economic problems.

Nipon added that the central bank should remain independent from political influence, to prevent any pressure from the political wing to adopt financial policies to benefit their political ends. “That would certainly and badly affect the economic system in the long term,” he added.