Thailand approves 16-billion-USD loan plan for COVID-19 response

Thailand’s House of Representatives on Thursday approved the government’s plan of borrowing up to 500 billion baht (about 16 billion U.S. dollars) to support its COVID-19 response measures amid the worst wave of the coronavirus outbreak so far.

The additional fund to be acquired by the Ministry of Finance and wrapped up by the end of September 2022 was given a retroactive approval with a vote of 270 to 196.The plan was announced last month in a royal gazette, which said the new debt would be raised in loans or via sales of other securities.

Calling it “the last resort” with which the government could continue to address the pandemic situation, Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said the fund would be spent under the government’s expenditure discipline and transparency.According to the finance minister, the fund will include 300 billion baht for relief measures for people affected by the pandemic, 170 billion baht for economic and social recovery measures and 30 billion baht for purchase of medical equipment and COVID-19 vaccines.

Thailand is now struggling to overcome its third wave of COVID-19 outbreak, which since early April has seen a more than sixfold jump in case tally as well as a surge in death toll. (1 U.S. dollar equals 31.15 Thai baht).

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