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Thanong urged to take matters into his hands

 

TOP US finance officials Robert Rubin and Alan Greenspan urged Thanong Bidaya, the Thai finance minister, to adopt a hands-on approach in tackling the financial institution problem and prevent the crisis from dragging on.

This followed their meeting on Monday during which the Americans pledged full support for Thailand's financial and economic reforms. Rubin, the US treasury secretary, and Greenspan, the chairman of the US Federal Reserve Board, called on Thanong to try to win back international confidence by adopting a transparent information disclosure system.

Earlier, Michel Camdessus, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said: ''One of the lessons of the Thai crisis is certainly that countries need to be more transparent and to inform the markets better. We are now assessing what steps to take next to promote transparency."

Chaiyawat Wibulswasdi, the Bank of Thailand governor, has also pledged more transparency with regards to crucial economic data now released every two weeks.

Rubin and Greenspan told Thanong that most countries have gone through a financial crisis.

''I was told Thailand might never encounter a systemic risk, so we must act fast to contain the problem," Thanong said. "Rubin and Greenspan backed Thailand because they believe we still have strong economic fundamentals."

Rubin and Greenspan did express concern over Thailand's political situation, but Thanong assured them that no matter who forms the government, the country is fully committed to following the IMF-prescribed economic adjustment programme.

The US officials also called for Thailand to mount a public relations exercise to inform international investors of its attempt to restructure its financial system and macro-economic stability.

''I did tell them that we have tried to explain what we have done to the public. However, the Thai press tends to be negative in their interpretations of what we've done," Thanong said.

 

BY THANONG KHANTHONG

 

 

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