The Thai currency is likely to become weaker against the US dollar and could fall by as much as 5.6% by the end of 2009. A currency expert forecast the Thai Baht, which as of February 4 traded at 34.95 per dollar, will slide to 36 by the end of June, and 37 by the end of the year.  The year 2008 saw the Thai currency plummet 15%, securing a third-worst spot amongst Asia's 10 most active currencies against the US dollar. Despite the Thai government's plan to spend billions of baht to spur growth, the political instability, which culminated in the closure of Bangkok's two international airports late last year, sent business sentiment to a record low. Thailand's current account will likely be in a deficit this year as overseas investment slows down, exports dry up, and the government's spending climbs through the roof.
The Thai government has announced a a six-point plan to reinvigorate the capital market and other sectors of the economy in a bid to help Thailand deal with global financial threats.  The 12 billion baht plan will be used as support funds to shore up sagging stock prices, while the Stock Exchange of Thailand will set up a 10 billion baht matching fund in partnership with financial institutions to buy shares.  Also, tax allowances for investors of long-term equity funds and retirement funds will be increased from 500,000 baht to 700,000 baht per person.  In addition, the 2009 state budget for mega-infrastructure construction projects will be increased from 250 billion baht to 350 billion baht, for mass transit, other transport and energy projects.
The Nation
Nishita Shah, a Thai of Indian origin who is just 28 years old, has been named the 19th richest person in Thailand by Forbes Asia magazine. Shah, who is worth $375 million, is the biggest shareholder and director of dry-bulk shipper Precious Shipping, which was founded by her father. Chaleo Yoovidhya is once again at the top of the list. Chaleo, the maker of Red Bull, is worth $4 billion, up 14 percent from last year, thanks largely to strong global sales of the caffeine-stoked energy drinks. He was followed by Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, the founder of Thai Beverage, who is worth $3.9 billion.
Forbes Asia