BANGKOK - Thailand's economic growth is expected to accelerate in the third quarter after a weaker-than-expected second quarter as public investment spending increases along with a recovery in tourism, the finance minister said on Wednesday.
Public investment had slowed in the second quarter because of pandemic restrictions but projects have resumed since July as the curbs were lifted, Arkhom Termpittayapaisith told reporters at the sidelines of a business seminar.
Despite missing analysts' forecasts, annual growth of 2.5% in April-June is still considered "OK", given last year's high comparative base, Arkhom told the seminar.
For 2022, economic growth of 3.0% to 3.5% predicted by state agencies is considered a clear recovery, Arkhom said, predicting foreign tourist arrivals of 8 million to 10 million this year.
That compares with nearly 40 million foreign tourists in 2019, before the pandemic.
Southeast Asia's second-largest economy is expected to grow 4% to 5% next year as the vital tourism sector picks up pace further, Arkhom said, even as the country battles spiralling inflation that could crimp domestic demand.
Last week, the central bank raised its key interest rate for the first time in nearly four years and signalled further gradual hikes to try and curb inflationary pressures.
Kanit Sangsubhan, a member of the central bank's monetary policy committee, said on Wednesday the economy was expected to grow 3.6% this year and 4.0% next, compared with the bank's official projections in June of 3.3% and 4.2%, respectively.
(Reporting by Orathai Sriring, Kitiphong Thaichareon and Satawasin Staporncharnchai Editing by John Geddie)