Thailand at risk of economic depression in H1 due to COVID-19 hinh anh 1Lavaron Sangsnit, director-general of the Fiscal Policy Office (Photo: Bangkokpost)

Bangkok (VNA) – Thailand is on course for an economic recession in the first half of this year, with its 2020 GDP being forecast to decrease 0.3 percent from the previous 1.8 percent as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the Siam Commercial Bank’s Economic Intelligence Centre (EIC).

The centre said the growth of Thailand’s economy has become slower in the first and second quarters of 2020 due to the declining performance in tourism, service and export sectors, and impact caused by the severe drought as well as the delayed fiscal budget in 2020.

The economy is predicted to gradually recover from the third quarter, with the number of tourists expected to strongly increase and financial assistance measures implemented to support the economy.

Meanwhile, Kasikornbank (KBank) forecast that the exchange rate will be at 31.50-32 Baht/USD on March 16-20 due to the impact of the pandemic on the US and European countries.

Thai stocks also posted their steepest slide since 2006, with the benchmark SET index down 17.27 percent to 1,128.91 points at the last weekend.

According to a senior official from the Thai Finance Ministry, the Bank of Thailand (BOT) still has monetary policy space for further rate cuts to cushion the impact from the Covid-19 outbreak.

Previously, the bank cut its policy rate by 0.25 percentage points to an unprecedented 1 percent at its February meeting to curb the impact of the outbreak, the delayed fiscal budget and severe drought in the country./.