Thailand approves US$58 bil economic package to ease virus impact

Policemen and volunteers measure body temperatures of visitors entering a market in Bangkok early this month. (AP pic)

BANGKOK: Thailand’s parliament passed a 1.9 trillion baht (US$58 billion) economic support package on Sunday to ease the impact of the coronavirus.

The legislation, comprising three bills, include a government plan to borrow 1 trillion baht and central bank measures worth another 900 billion baht in soft loans and support for corporate bonds.

Of the 1 trillion baht of borrowing, 600 billion baht will be for public health works and relief measures, and the rest for rebuilding the economy and job creation.

The bills must next be approved by the upper house Senate, which is expected to convene in early June, before they can become law.

The latest steps follow billions of dollars of stimulus measures introduced earlier this year to cope with the impact of the coronavirus on the Thai economy, which is heading into a recession.

Thailand began this month to gradually ease some restrictions introduced to contain the virus. More businesses classified as medium to high risks, including cinemas and gyms, will be allowed to reopen on Monday.

Thailand’s central bank has said it expects the economy to sharply contract this year as the pandemic hit businesses and households.

Thailand reported four new coronavirus cases on Sunday. The country has confirmed 3,081 cases and 57 deaths since the outbreak began in January.