Thai Central Bank Holds Key Rate at Record Low, Cuts 2022 Growth Outlook

Thailand’s central bank kept its key interest rate unchanged for a 13th straight meeting, taking a cautious stance amid potential risks of the Omicron variant to a fragile economic recovery.

The Bank of Thailand’s (BOT) Monetary Policy Committee voted unanimously to maintain the benchmark rate at a record-low 0.50 percent during its last policy meeting for the year on Wednesday.

The central bank also dimmed its growth forecast for Thailand’s economy next year from 3.9 percent to 3.4 percent. For 2021, it increased its expectation from 0.7 percent to 0.9 percent.

“The Committee assessed that the Omicron outbreak would affect the economy in early 2022,” BOT said in a statement. “The impact could be more severe and prolonged than expected due to downside risks such as the severity of the outbreak and the strictness of corresponding containment measures.”

Last week, BOT Governor Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput said ahead of the meeting that the discovery of new variants in the near future could affect growth estimates as it may derail Thailand’s tourist industry.

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