Govt intervention is ruled out
Exporters told to make adjustments; BOT ready to stem currency volatility
Economic tsar Pridiyathorn Devakula yesterday sternly warned exporters that they had better prepare to battle the baht problem for another year and not entertain hopes the government would bail them out.
It was incumbent on exporters to make appropriate adjustments for currency risks, he said.
The Bank of Thailand has confirmed that it has prepared measures to stem baht volatility and the measures would be rolled out as called for, said Pridiyathorn, a deputy premier and the finance minister. But his ministry would not introduce any measures to help exporters as exports are still showing robust growth and it's the central bank's job to stabilise the Thai currency.
"I'm concerned about the stronger baht. The [central bank] governor is also concerned, and [Industry Minister] Kosit [Panpiemras] is concerned too. And [we've] been concerned for months. But the central bank has several measures and they will gradually introduce them," Pridiyathorn said. "The Finance Ministry does not need to initiate any measures as our exports still grow well. We shouldn't get involved. The central bank has already taken good care of it. They can handle it, as they have done all the time," he added.
The baht has gained 13-14 per cent against the US dollar this year, surpassing the rise of several regional currencies. Yesterday, the baht opened at Bt35.23-Bt35.28 and peaked at Bt35.21 before slipping to Bt35.22-Bt35.24 at close of trading.
Pridiyathorn, the ex-central-bank governor, said the stronger baht has hurt local exporters but all exporters in the Asian region have been affected as well.
The reason that regional currencies have picked up in value is the flagging confidence in the US economy, which faces the intractable problem of foreign debts, trade deficits and current-account deficits. This has worried investors and they have shifted their funds into Asian markets.
"The stronger currencies have affected all Asian markets. This was caused by the larger country. We have to consider what to do to lessen the impact. This is similar to waves, which rock all boats. These waves have been out there for a year and are expected to last another year. It's the duty of the central bank to take care of it," he said.
"Large exporters have already made adjustments for the stronger baht, but smaller ones have not. I have warned them all the time.
"This and last month have seen foreign capital flooding in, but it has been quite stable this time," he said.
"The recent intervention of the central bank did not cause any problems. With the baht used in the intervention, we got dollars back into our international reserves."
Sangsit Pirirangsan, chairman of the committee on fiscal and financial institutions affairs at the National Legislative Assembly, said he has accepted a petition from Winai Senneam, a former Democrat MP, demanding a probe into the abnormal appreciation of the baht. The soaring baht has buffeted farmers and businessmen for almost a year.
Sansit said the committee would meet on Wednesday and would invite the central bank governor to explain the issue to the committee.