The International Monetary Fund ( IMF) praised the Thai authority for coping with capital flows, but warned Thailand to be caution about its fiscal discipline and inflation, according to an IMF press release issued on Monday.
According to the press release, IMF delegate Luis E. Breuer visited Thailand and met with executives of the Bank of Thailand ( BoT) and senior Finance Ministry officials to review the financial situation of Thailand during May 29 to June 13.
Breuer said the Thai economy has shown an impressive resilience to shocks, including the global financial crisis, supply-chain disruptions following the tsunami in Japan, and the devastating 2011 floods across the country.
Economic fundamentals are strong, including a track record of growth, stability and fiscal discipline, healthy balance sheets of commercial banks and corporations, high international reserves, and manageable public debt, he added.
Despite Thailand's economic slowdown in the first quarter, the IMF delegation was optimistic that GDP will expand by 4.75 percent this year, and further by 5.25 percent next year -- supported by strong private demand and an acceleration of public spending.
"Against the backdrop of the global financial crisis and the devastating 2011 floods, the expansionary fiscal policy pursued in recent years was justified, aimed at supporting aggregate demand and reconstruction activities," Breuer said in a statement.
The Thai authorities, Breuer said, are taking actions to improve tax compliance and expand the tax base, reduce tax incentives for consumption, and revamp excises, while maintaining strict control over current spending.
Breuer said the IMF delegation discussed additional measures that would support the authorities' goals of increasing public spending on infrastructure, while preserving fiscal discipline.
"The Bank of Thailand's accommodative monetary stance is appropriately supporting the economy," he said, however, calling on the central bank to remain vigilant to demand and wage pressures, and stand ready to normalize interest rates if overheating pressures emerge or inflation picks up.
In an era of volatile capital flows and rapid shifts in investors risk appetite, the inflation targeting regime and the credibility of the central bank have served Thailand well, he added. noting that policy response to the recent episode of capital flows was appropriate, including exchange rate flexibility and the preparation of contingency measures."
Though the financial sector has benefited from the strong recovery, the IMF delegate warned that vulnerabilities are rising, as well as the rising of household debt.
Meanwhile, Fiscal Policy Director Somchai Sajjapong said on Monday that the Fiscal Policy Office (FPC) agreed with the IMF's GDP projection for 2013, of which the growth should be below 5 percent. The current GDP growth projection by the FPC is 5.3 percent, but the FPC will have a meeting to adjust the projection in late June.