Thailand Achieving 'Greater Stability' Since Political Crisis: PM
A few months after Thailand was gripped by a crippling political crisis that led to bloody protests in Bangkok, the country has achieved greater stability and is on track to meet its growth forecast this year, the country's prime minister Abhisit Vejajiva told CNBC on Monday.
"We don't pretend that it's easy to achieve normalcy and complete stability given what's happened early in the year," Abhisit said.
"It's clear that it hasn't prevented us from making progress as far as the economy is concerned. And when you ask whether the stability is real, whether the money keeps coming in is for real, I would point to fundamentals in the real economy," he said.
Thailand's GDP rose 10.6 percent in the first half of the year and is expected to grow between 7 and 8 percent this year which is "not bad at all", the premier said.
The Bank of Thailand, which raised interest rates twice since July, has forecast growth of between 6.5 and 7.5 percent in 2010. Thailand's inflation rate currently stands at around 3.5 percent while the country's unemployment rate is just above 1 percent.
The economy's robust performance has shown that it is capable of rebounding from frequent political upheaval, some experts have said.
Exports have risen around 30 percent so far this year while the tourists are coming back, Abhisit noted.
More than 10 million foreigners visited Thailand in the first eight months of 2010, marking a 13 percent rise from a year earlier, government figures showed.
Baht In Line With Regionals
The Thai baht is also at its strongest level in 13 years since the collapse of the currency during the Asian financial crisis in 1997.
"We continue to run a current account surplus and that has been the most fundamental factor as far as people buying into the baht," the prime minister continued, saying the currency's movement was "not out of line" with regional currencies.
"We're back, and..we have our sights firmly on the future," Abhisit said.
"We want to make this economy more competitive. We want to create more opportunities for our people," he concluded.