File pic: A tuk-tuk driver near the Grand Palace in Bangkok. - AFP BANGKOK: Thailand is considering introducing new economic measures to boost consumption and help businesses and debtors cope with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, a deputy prime minister said on Thursday. The government plans to expand a recently announced package to spur domestic tourism, and to help more companies get financial support, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak told a briefing. "If the business sector has to stop or halt operations, and if there is no demand in the market, it will be difficult," he said, adding that details of the measures could be announced around the middle of July. Consumer sentiment picked up for the second consecutive month in June but was still near a record low, with spending likely to be weak for another three to six months, according to a university survey. The finance ministry will also consider support for borrowers after a delayed debt repayment period ends in September, said Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana. "We must look at the long term because COVID-19 is not over yet. This crisis is the most severe," he said. The cabinet will consider on Wednesday a 50 billion baht ($1.61 billion) fund to aid small firms, and projects worth about 80 billion baht to help revive the economy, officials say. These will be financed by some of the government's 1 trillion baht borrowing aimed at mitigating the virus impact on Southeast Asia's second-largest economy, which the central bank predicts will contract a record 8.1% this year. - Reuters
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