Thais 'committed to rescue deal'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 September, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 September, 1997, 12:00am

Thai Finance Minister Thanong Bidaya yesterday rejected claims that the country was failing to put in place the economic and finance rescue and reform package demanded by the International Monetary Fund.

Mr Thanong said the government was 'staunchly committed' to the package of measures, aimed at slashing the deficit and rebuilding international confidence in the battered baht.

'There have been rumours to the opposite, but let me and my colleagues here this evening put any and all rumours to rest,' Mr Bidaya said.

'Thailand's commitment to this programme goes beyond any government or administration; we will not waiver from our commitment, regardless of who is in power, and when.' Concern has been expressed that domestic political problems were distracting Thai officials from undertaking wide-ranging reforms demanded as part of the US$17.2 billion rescue package.

Mr Bidaya said a return of confidence was the key to turning around the economy and attracting an inflow of foreign capital to solve the short-term liquidity problem.

'This time we pledge to put the funds to more productive use, and to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past,' he said.

'We have had our Roaring Twenties, so to speak, and now it is time to put our noses to the grindstone and forget about over-zealous, lavish spending on non-productive luxuries.' He said a comprehensive package of measures to reform the financial sector would be announced on October 15.

'We have tried to do our best. We have done the budget cuts, we have done the fiscal measures, but the financial system still has quite a few issues in terms of legal matters,' he said.

'Our recovery will be a long, difficult process.

'We understand this, and Thais from all walks of life are bracing for the inevitable crunch.'