The Thai economy in the first quarter of 2013 expanded by 5.3 percent, a drop from 19.1 percent registered in the fourth quarter of 2012.
As a result of the lower-than-expected growth in the first quarter, the Office of National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) has revised the economic growth forecast for the whole of 2013 to 4.2-5.2 percent from 4.5-5.5 percent.
NESDB Secretary-General Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said that the sluggish expansion in the Thai economy was a result of a slowdown in both domestic and external demands. Household consumption rose by 4.2 percent, compared with 12.4 percent in the previous quarter. Consumption of such durable goods as automobiles grew steadily, while that of non-durable goods and services was on the decline.
Public sector consumption grew by 2.2 percent, against 12.5 percent in the previous quarter. Investment expanded by 6 percent, a decline from 22.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. Private investment increased by 3.1 percent, while public sector investment increased by 18.8 percent.
Imports in the first quarter came to 56,402 million dollars, an increase of 7 percent, compared with 14.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. The price of imports continued to decline by 1.8 percent, compared with a contraction of 0.4 percent in the previous quarter. This was due to the decline in the prices of global crude oil, gold and gems. In terms of Thai baht, the value of imports grew by 3.1 percent.
The NESDB Secretary-General pointed out that economic management in the remaining quarters of 2013 should take into consideration the weakening economic momentum and ensure that the stability of the baht would be in line with the country’s economic fundamentals. Prices of major goods, especially energy, construction materials, and agricultural raw materials, should be well-managed in line with the movement of exchange rates. This would help soften inflationary pressure and support economic recovery, as well as warding off fluctuations in major markets that are sensitive to capital inflow.
Emphasis should also be placed on accelerating relief measures for small and medium-sized enterprises to ease impacts from the appreciation of the baht, rising labor costs, and prolonged economic contraction in eurozone.
Moreover, the public sector management should be enhanced, as well, in order to improve the efficiency of the overall economic system.