BANGKOK (REUTERS) - The latest coronavirus wave to hit Thailand is expected to reduce gross domestic product (GDP) by 0.8 per cent to 2 per cent this year, Thailand's central bank said on Thursday (July 22), as the South-east Asian country tackles its biggest outbreak of the virus to date.
The current Covid-19 wave has seen daily record infections, which the Bank of Thailand (BOT) said had became more severe and prolonged than previously expected.
Stricter containment measures have caused economic activity to plummet to levels close to those reached during a 2020 lockdown and is likely to fall further, senior director Chayawadee Chai-Anant told a briefing.
"GDP could drop by as much as 2 per cent if the current curbs do not reduce infections and the outbreak drags on throughout the year," she said, adding a base case was for a 1.2 per cent GDP fall.
"That's only an impact on GDP. But there could be more fiscal measures, together with other factors such as exports to support the economy," Ms Chayawadee said.
The economy faces higher risks than projected last month and the impact on activity is likely to be prolonged, she said, without giving specific GDP forecasts. "The situation is still fluid."
Last month, the BOT cut its GDP growth forecasts for the year to 1.8 per cent from 3.0 per cent, and a 2022 outlook to 3.9 per cent from 4.7 per cent. It is due to release new projections in September.
The BOT has left its key rate at a record low of 0.5 per cent since the middle of last year.
If the government raises the public debt to the GDP ceiling, it should not be a worry if it maintains fiscal discipline, Ms Chayawadee said.