BANGKOK (Reuters) - The military junta
running Thailand has drawn up a list of emergency measures such as price
caps on fuel and loan guarantees for small firms to kick-start an
economy threatened by recession after months of political turmoil.
The plans, outlined by Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong late on
Sunday after a meeting with officials at economic ministries, take
in longer-term measures such as the development of special economic
zones on the borders with Myanmar, Laos and Malaysia.
The military toppled the remnants of former Prime Minister Yingluck
Shinawatra's administration on May 22 after months of protests that
had forced government ministries to close, hurt business confidence
and caused the economy to shrink.
The coup was the latest convulsion in a decade-long conflict that
pits the Bangkok-based royalist establishment, dominated by the
military, old-money families and the bureaucracy, against supporters
of Yingluck's elder brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who is adored by
the poor in the north and northeast.
Yingluck herself was ordered to step down two weeks before the coup
when a court found her guilty of abuse of power.
Considered the power behind Yingluck's government, former
telecommunications tycoon Thaksin was ousted as prime minister in a
coup in 2006 and has lived in self-imposed exile since fleeing a
2008 conviction for abuse of power.
Air Chief Marshal Prajin, who is overseeing economic matters for the
junta, said 30 urgent proposals on the economy would be discussed
with coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Among them, Prajin mentioned a form of price insurance for rice
farmers. This would replace a costly buying scheme run under
Yingluck that collapsed when her caretaker government was unable to
find funding, leaving hundreds of thousands of farmers unpaid for
The military rulers said they would also tackle the problem of loan
sharks, made worse by the hardship suffered by farmers because of
the rice fiasco, and are looking at low-cost home loans to be
offered through the Government Housing Bank.
Prajin said he had told the Finance Ministry to look at a complete
overhaul of the tax structure and report to him next week.
The Nation newspaper said state enterprises, including Thai Airways
International Pcl and the State Railway of Thailand, would put
investment plans to Prajin on Monday and these would also be
discussed with Prayuth this week.
TMB Bank said the economy should pick up under the new government
and it expected its loan book to grow 10 percent this year rather
than 6 to 8 percent. It used to be known as Thai Military Bank and
the armed forces retain a small stake, with Prayuth sitting on its
Moody's Investors Service affirmed Thailand's Baa1 credit rating on
Monday with a stable outlook, based on the country's manageable debt
profile, its fiscal controls, the strength of economic bodies such
as the Bank of Thailand and a likely current account surplus this
In a commentary on May 26, it had expressed concern about
the repeated political disruption in Thailand, saying it had held
back economic development over the longer term.
Prayuth, in a televised address on Friday, said the military would
need time to reconcile Thailand's antagonistic political forces and
push through reforms, indicating there would be no general election
for about 15 months.
The United States, European Union countries and others have called
for the military to restore democracy quickly, release political
detainees and end censorship.
As well as working to revive the economy, the military council has
moved to suppress criticism of the coup and nip protests in the bud.
Yingluck, as well as prominent supporters of the Shinawatras, have
been briefly detained and warned against any anti-military
On Sunday, the army council sent 5,700 troops and police into
central Bangkok to stop anti-coup protests, which were mostly
limited to small gatherings held around shopping malls.
The military has banned political gatherings of five or more people
and protests that have taken place in Bangkok since the May 22
putsch have been small and brief.
On Saturday, as on the two previous days, the authorities closed
normally busy roads around Victory Monument, which was becoming a
focal point for opposition to the coup. The area was flooded with
police and troops but no protesters turned up.
(Writing by Alan Raybould; Editing by Robert Birsel and Alex