Thai Government Plans to Name New Governor for Central Bank by End of July

Thailand plans to name a new central bank governor by the end of July, after deciding who among the four shortlisted candidates can best guide an economy hampered by the nation’s worst political violence in almost two decades.

The number of applicants will be reduced to at least two before a preferred candidate is proposed to Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij later this month, said Satit Rungkasiri, a member of the selection committee, who declined to name them.

The incoming governor will replace Tarisa Watanagase, whose term ends in September, inheriting an economy where growth has been hurt by political clashes that claimed 89 lives in April and May. The Bank of Thailand kept its benchmark interest rate at 1.25 percent on June 2, the lowest level since July 2004.

The central bank’s 22nd governor will be the first to win the role through a competitive application process, Satit said. The preferred candidate must also be approved by the Cabinet and endorsed by Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Deputy Governor Bandid Nijathaworn confirmed last week that he applied for the position, and said he’s ready to use his 18 years of experience with the central bank to help the country.

Bandid has been a deputy governor for seven years, and has experience in formulating monetary policy and working with financial institutions, he told reporters on June 11.

Prasarn Trairatvorakul, President of Kasikornbank Pcl, Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala, head of the Securities & Exchange Commission and Pisit Leeahtam, former deputy finance minister, are the other candidates, the Prachachat Turakij newspaper reported on its website today, citing an unidentified official at the finance ministry.

Thailand’s economy, Southeast Asia’s biggest after Indonesia, grew 12 percent in the first three months of 2010 from a year earlier, as exports, investment and consumption recovered after a recession last year.

Bandid on June 3 said economic growth will slow this quarter as tourists shun Thailand following the political unrest in April and May.

To contact the reporter on this story: Suttinee Yuvejwattana in Bangkok at suttinee1@bloomberg.net.

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