B450bn budget deficit planned for fiscal 2018

Workers build Bangkok’s new train station in Bang Sue district on April 23, 2016. The terminal will replace Hua Lamphong station, which will be transformed into a train museum over the next four years. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The government plans for a budget deficit of 450 billion baht for fiscal 2018, largely due to allocations for public investment, its finance minister said on Thursday.

Spending on investment for the 2018 fiscal year, starting on Oct 1 this year, is expected to increase to 23%, compared with 21-22% in the previous fiscal year, Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong told reporters.

Thai officials have said they expect the deficit for fiscal 2017 to reach around 580 billion baht after initially forecasting a 390-billion-baht deficit and then announcing new investment projects.

“Thailand’s economy has many engines that are about to be ignited. If we stop the engines under the government’s control there might be problems. That is why we should plan for a bigger budget deficit than last year,” Mr Apisak said.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, who also attended the budget meeting with senior government officials, said the budget deficit is not expected to have an impact on public debt to GDP which would still remain at around 45%.

The government expects about 114 billion baht from an extra budget announced late last year to be approved and disbursed before the end of this month, officials said.

Thailand’s budget deficit was at 390 billion baht in 2015 and 2016.

The government has continued to ramp up big investment projects in a bid to revive the sluggish economy, with exports and domestic demand remaining weak.

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