By Petchanet Pratruangkrai
A Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) survey showed businessmen in each region have weak confidence in the country’s growth this year and next year due to lower agricultural prices and consumer spending.
During the closing ceremony of the 31st annual meeting of the TCC, Somkid said the government should correct its mistakes and prevent violence from the protests, otherwise Thailand would face huge losses. The leaders of the other side should also avoid confrontation and protect the people.
“The government has lost [some credibility] from its mistakes, populist policy and corruption. It should urgently restore its trustworthiness or it would be unable to administrate the country and drive growth. When becoming a prime minister, the person should give top concern to the country’s sake so that people will [benefit],” he said.
This year the economy could grow slower than 3 per cent as four factors, which are economic engines, have been stagnant. Those factors are exports, domestic consumption, investment and government spending.
The economy next year would continue to show slowing growth as most negative factors have been severely hit by the political problem. The financial and trading sector would continue its fluctuation. Only the export sector has seen the light of recovery following the growth of the United States and China.
The TCC’s survey with 713 business respondents showed every region has witnessed a slowdown in consumption and commerce due to the delayed payment to rice pledgers, lower farm crop prices and the impact from the political conflict.
Saowanee Thairungroj, president of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said businessmen expect the economy this year would grow only 2.8-3.3 per cent, while next year it would grow by 4.1-5.1 per cent.
This year, the economy in the East would show the strongest growth at 3.77 per cent, followed by the South at 3.65 per cent, Northeast at 3.36 per cent, Central region at 3.36 per cent and the North at 3.22 per cent.
As a result of a brainstorming session, the chamber found SMEs have faced many difficulties amid the current economic circumstances.
Those difficulties include higher cost of production, tougher competition in pricing, reduced profit and sales, bulging inventories and sameness in products and services.
TCC vice chairman Chatchai Boonyarat said SMEs have been caught in a “vicious cycle”. They need to be trained and led away from the cycle. To fix those problems and ensure business survivals under the upcoming Asean Economic Community and global liberalisation, SMEs have been suggested to gather together to increase their bargaining power, adapt technology and change process for management to reduce the cost of production, and develop differentiation to diversify products and services.