Sunday, September 20, 2020

Prayut’s new economic panel targets 1m jobs, tourism boost

Aug 20. 2020
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By The Nation

The new committee tasked with steering the economy through the virus crisis got off to a fast start on Wednesday, announcing measures to boost tourism and create 1 million jobs.

Set up following the Cabinet reshuffle earlier this month, the panel’s first meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and attended by economics ministers and experts. 

They agreed to increase subsidies for local tourists and make jobs available for 400,000 new graduates, said Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow, after Wednesday’s meeting.

The government plans to boost local tourism by expanding its 40 per cent subsidy for accommodation costs from five to 10 nights. The government launched the tourism subsidies in mid-July, but so far only 660,000 of the available 5 million subsidised nights have been booked. Travellers will also see their Bt1,000 discount on air tickets boosted to Bt2,000, he said. Meanwhile large corporates will be invited to make use of the subsidies by organising seminar or training in other parts of the country. The measures will be submitted to the Cabinet for approval on August 25.

The Labour Ministry will also propose measures aimed at creating 1 million jobs in the near future to combat growing unemployment. The government has prioritised finding another 400,000 jobs for graduates by funding companies to hire and retain workers, he said. The jobs will be available at private companies and government agencies, he said. 

The government will also launch other job creating projects funded by the Bt400-billion economic stimulus package.

The unemployment rate in the second quarter rose 1.95 per cent to 745,000 people, according to the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC). The NESDC is also worried about significant further job losses as 1.7 million workers are currently furloughed. The state think-tank forecast the economy will shrink 7.5 per cent this year following a plunge of 12.2 per cent in the second quarter.

Supattanapong said the government aims to shore up the economy and keep the contraction lower than projected.

Meanwhile, Bank of Thailand governor Veerathai Santiprabhob said more small and medium-sized enterprises will apply for loans under the Bt500-billion soft loans scheme. Launched by the central bank in April, the scheme has attracted fewer than expected borrowers due to strict loan conditions. The government on Tuesday relaxed the conditions by tasking the state run-Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation to guarantee loans, which will encourage commercial banks to lend more.

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