- Population - 65.1m (2005)
- Total labour force - 36.2m (2005)
- % of labour force in agriculture - 38% (2005)
- Average lending interest rate – 6.9% (2005)
- % change in consumer prices – 4.5% (2005)
- GDP at constant 1988 prices – USD3,843bn (2005)
- Agriculture sector as % of total GDP – 9% (2004)
The main institutions with responsibility for policymaking and supervision of the financial system are the Ministry of Finance and the central bank, Band of Thailand (BOT). The central bank supervises banks, finance firms and housing loan officials, and plays a leading role in instituting market reforms. Both institutions have been pushing through a joint reform agenda, under the Financial Sector Reform Master Plan, which was announced in early 2004 and centres on a process of consolidation. Under the reform plan, Thai banks have had to apply for licences to operate as either full-service commercial banks or restricted banks. Licences have also been granted to non-bank financial institutions, enabling them to operate as credit companies without the right to accept public deposits. For financial institutions that are unable to obtain licences as commercial or restricted banks, licences are being granted enabling them to
as credit companies also without the right to accept public deposits.
At present, there are three state-owned commercial banks—Krung Thai Bank (KTB), BankThai and Siam City Bank (SCB)—and a number of state-owned specialised banks, the largest of which are the Government Savings Bank, the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Co-operatives, and the SME Bank. In May 2006, in addition to the state-owned commercial banks, there were 15 Thai commercial banks and 17 foreign banks with single branch offices.
The banking system remains plagued by non-performing loans (NPLs), and this has generally hampered the efficient functioning of the sector. In an attempt to improve the quality of management in Thailand’s banking system, in 2004 the BOT introduced tighter provisioning rules for commercial banks’ NPLs. Overall, however, a trend of reducing NPLs has been achieved. At end-2005 total outstanding NPLs held by Thai commercial banks stood at Bt470bn, equivalent to around 8.3% of total outstanding loans, down from Bt570bn (10.9% of total outstanding loans) at end-2004.
Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit