Vegetarian festival splurge expected
Thais are expected to splurge more during the annual vegetarian festival, which is split into two this year, with spending estimated at 51.4 billion baht.
According to the latest survey by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) involving 1,188 respondents nationwide, spending during the festival — which takes place over two nine-day periods from Sept 24-Oct 2 and Oct 24-Nov 1 — is expected to increase by 27.7% this year from 40.15 billion baht last year.
The figure represents a seven-year high, since the university started the survey in 2008.
This year's event will persuade people to eat more vegetables and spend more, said Thanavath Phonvichai, vice-president for research at UTCC.
According to Mr Thanavath, food and raw materials are expected to enjoy the greatest benefit from the festival, with 42-45 billion baht expected to be circulated among food traders and operators.
The survey estimated spending in the first period at 41.1 billion baht, with spending in the second period put at 10.3 billion baht.
"Together with the government's accelerated budget disbursement and the Bank of Thailand's Monetary Policy Committee's recent decision to maintain its 2% policy interest rate for the fourth consecutive meeting, higher spending during the festival will help drive economic growth by about 2% this year," he said.
The UTCC early this month cut its economic growth forecast to a range of 1.5% to 2% for this year from an earlier projection of between 2% and 2.5%. It projects the economy will grow by 4% to 5% next year.
However, it warned the economy would grow by only 1.5% at the end of this year if the fiscal budget disbursement is stalled or delayed.
Last month the National Economic and Social Development Board trimmed its forecast for full-year growth to between 1.5% and 2% from 1.5% to 2.5% projected in May.
The state planning agency also cut its export growth estimate for 2014 from 3.7% to 2%.