Thailand Selects Two Finalists for Central Bank Governor

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Thailand has selected two finalists to head its central bank as the country grapples with its worst economic crisis ever.

The two names weren’t disclosed, but one is a Bank of Thailand official and the other an outsider, according to Rungson Sriworasat, who heads the panel overseeing the selection process. The two were chosen from among four applicants -- Bank of Thailand Deputy Governor Mathee Supapongse, Deputy Governor Ronadol Numnonda, Monetary Policy Committee member Setthaput Suthiwart-Narueput and economist Anusorn Tamajai -- who came Tuesday to describe their economic vision to the panel, Rungson said in an interview.

The new governor, who will take over from Veerathai Santiprabhob on October 1, will have limited policy space to boost the economy. The central bank has cut its benchmark interest rate three times this year to a record low of 0.5%, seeking to revive an economy it expects to contract by 8.1%, the most severe outlook in Asia.

The decision is part of a broader shakeup in the country’s economic management. Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana resigned July 16 ahead of a cabinet reshuffle -- one of six ministers to resign -- with Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha saying he’ll choose a replacement by next month.

The names of the Bank of Thailand governor finalists will be submitted to Acting Finance Minister Santi Promphat within three days. He then can choose one and send it to the Cabinet for final consideration, or wait for the new finance minister to take office, Rungson said.

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