Thai consumption keeps increasing amid recovery

Private consumption improved in January, according to the Fiscal Policy Office’s director-general Pornchai Thiraveja.

He said the consumer confidence index rose for the eighth consecutive month to 51.7 in January, from 49.7 a month earlier. Headline inflation and core inflation in January were 5.02% and 3.04%, respectively.

“The Thai economy in January was supported by the improving private consumption,” Mr Pornchai said.

He said that several private consumption indicators improved. The number of newly registered motorcycles in January increased 10.1% year-on-year, but sales of passenger cars fell by 2.1% year-on-year. The collection of value-added tax in the month expanded by 0.7% year-on-year.

Private investment in machinery in January, reflected by sales of commercial vehicles, fell 7.3% year on year. Investment in the construction sector, reflected by the sales of cement, contracted by 5.6% year-on-year.

Fee collection in the property business surged by 12.5% year-on-year, Mr Pornchai added.

The ratio of public debt to GDP as of December 2022 stood at 60.7%, still under the fiscal discipline and the ceiling of 70%.

The number of unemployed workers who applied for benefits in January accounted for 0.55% of the total number of workers under Article 33 of the Social Security Act.

The office said the country’s external conditions remain stable and can deal with the global economic volatility. Foreign reserves stood at US$225.5 billion in January.

The finance ministry forecasts Thai economic expansion of 3.8% this year, driven by the recovery of the tourism sector and domestic demand. The ministry expects foreign tourist arrivals of 27.5 million this year, a surge of 147% year-on-year.

The ministry projects headline inflation this year of 2.8% and core inflation of 2.3%.