Thailand to stay on growth path despite higher inflation: central bank

[BANGKOK] Thailand’s economy will continue to expand in 2022 and 2023 despite rising inflation, while monetary policy tightening may have to wait until the economy recovers more strongly, the central bank said on Monday (Apr 18).

The central bank will continue to support the economy, as it has left the key rate at a record low of 0.50 per cent since May 2020 to aid a slow and uneven recovery, the Bank of Thailand (BOT) said in a statement at an analysts’ meeting.

The BOT has forecast economic growth of 3.2 per cent this year and 4.4 per cent next year, driven by domestic demand and tourism. It predicts 5.6 million foreign tourists this year and 19 million next year, compared with 40 million in 2019.

Despite higher supply-driven inflation, medium-term inflation expectations remain in the BOT’s target range of 1-3 per cent, meaning no policy action is needed, for now, officials said.

The BOT forecasts headline inflation at 4.9 per cent this year, above its target range, before easing back to 1.7 per cent next year.

In the medium-term, the BOT will look to increase its limited policy room when the economy recovers more strongly, Assistant Governor Piti Disyatat told a news conference.

“If the economy heats up, it’s natural that monetary policy must be adjusted,” he said.

South-east Asia’s second-largest economy is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels in early 2023 and to reach its growth potential in the second half of that year, Piti said.

The Thai and US rate differentials have had limited impact on Thailand’s financial markets due to its strong external position, he said.

Last week, Governor Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput told Reuters the BOT would watch for signs such as second-round effects on prices and unanchored inflation expectations before policy tightening. REUTERS