July 23, 2020 / 11:45 AM / 22 days ago

New Thai cenbank chief must be 'good, competent and honest' - acting FinMin

* PM’s adviser Sethaput seen leading race - media

* New governor inherits ailing economy, limited policy room

* Governor Veerathai’s 5-yr term ends in September

BANGKOK, July 23 (Reuters) - Thailand’s next central bank governor must be “good, competent and honest”, according to the deputy finance minister, who will pick a winner from two shortlisted candidates to steer Southeast Asia’s worst performing economy through the coronavirus crisis.

The new chief will also have to use monetary policy to support the economy, Santi Promphat told reporters on Thursday, adding that he had already received the names of two candidates from which he will choose the 24th governor.

“When to propose that to the cabinet, I have to look at timing and regulations as I’ve just taken the acting minister job,” said Santi, who stepped into the role after the resignation of Uttama Savanayana last week.

Santi did not disclose the identity of the two candidates. The governor appointment needs cabinet and royal approval.

Bank of Thailand Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob’s five-year term ends in September at a time when the BOT predicts Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy will shrink by a record 8.1% this year, and the policy rate is at a record low of 0.5%.

According to media reports, Sethaput Suthiwart-Narueput, a former World Bank economist and an economic adviser to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, is leading the race to be governor.

Sethaput, sits on the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee and holds a doctorate in economics from Yale University.

Deputy central bank governor Mathee Supapongse was expected to be another finalist. (Reporting by Kitphong Thaichareon and Orathai Sriring; Editing by Martin Petty)

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