The Bank of Thailand increases the repurchase rate from 1.50% to 1.75% in a meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee on Wednesday. (Bangkok Post photo) The Bank of Thailand, in a widely expected move, raised its policy rate for the first time in more than seven years, aiming at building up policy space amid the growing uncertainties. The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted 5-2 on Wednesday to lift its one-day repurchase rate by a quarter-point to 1.75% after keeping the rate unchanged since April 2015, said MPC secretary Titanun Mallikamas. “The majority of the committee’s members agree to raise the policy rate to reduce the risk of financial instability and build up policy space for the future,” it said in a statement. The rise in the prime interest rate was the first since 2011. Given that rate-setters have repeatedly discussed raising interest rates in recent meetings, and the vote to keep the rate unchanged was split at 4-3 in November’s meeting, the market had anticipated that the central bank would change course at this year’s final meeting. After this initial rate hike, economists expect one more hike in the first half of 2019.