Thailand - Public finance

Only a few utilities—power generation, transportation, and communications—are owned by the government, which is fiscally conservative in what is essentially a free-enterprise system. Following the Asian financial crisis of 1998, the Royal Government of Thailand has taken strong macroeconomic steps to stimulate the economy. However, several years of post-crisis deficit spending by the government in addition to the liabilities incurred in the international bailout program continue to weigh down the economy. The government's annual budget deficit as a percent of GDP was a manageable 1.4% in 1997, and then soared to a peak 5% of GDP in 1998. Although this ratio had declined to 3.3% by 2001 (still above a financially prudent 3% limit), the budget deficit was projected to increase to a near-record 4.8% in 2002.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimates that in 2000 Thailand's central government took in revenues of approximately $19 billion and had expenditures of $21 billion. Overall, the government registered a deficit of approximately $2 billion. External debt totaled $69.4 billion.

The following table shows an itemized breakdown of government revenues and expenditures. The percentages were calculated from data reported by the International Monetary Fund. The dollar amounts (millions) are based on the CIA estimates provided above.


REVENUE AND GRANTS 100.0% 19,000
Tax revenue 82.1% 15,606
Non-tax revenue 17.4% 3,311
Capital revenue <0.1% 3
Grants 0.4% 80
EXPENDITURES 100.0% 21,000
General public services 8.6% 1,800
Defense 7.4% 1,553
Public order and safety 5.8% 1,227
Education 19.9% 4,169
Health 7.1% 1,499
Social security 6.0% 1,250
Housing and community amenities 5.1% 1,062
Recreation, cultural, and religious affairs 0.7% 144
Economic affairs and services 26.7% 5,605
Other expenditures 6.5% 1,371
Interest payments 6.3% 1,321
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