BANGKOK - Thailand's central bank on Wednesday cut its key interest rate to a record low, as concerns mount over the impact of the coronavirus epidemic.
Bank of Thailand Monetary Policy Committee members unanimously decided to lower the benchmark rate by 0.25 percentage point to 1 percent, the lowest since the committee was instituted in 2008.
The central bank said a more accommodative monetary policy stance is warranted to alleviate the negative impact of the coronavirus, the delayed enactment of the annual budget expenditure act and a prolonged drought.
The rate cut is the first this year and follows two cuts last year.
Titanun Malikamas, assistant governor of the Bank of Thailand, said the move would support liquidity provision and debt restructuring for businesses and households severely affected by the economic slowdown.
The committee said Thailand's economy will likely grow at a slower pace in 2020 than previously expected. In particular, it forecasts a drop in tourist numbers, while exports of goods are also seen declining as the virus's impact is felt throughout the global economy.
The committee said it would monitor developments of economic growth, inflation, financial stability and "especially the coronavirus outbreak" in deliberating monetary policy going forward.
The Bank of Thailand is the first central bank to cut rates in direct response to the coronavirus crisis. The People's Bank of China on Monday supplied 1.2 trillion yuan ($174 billion) to money markets amid fears the virus poses strong headwinds to the world's second-largest economy.