Thailand’s deputy prime minister Kittirat Na-Ranong sparked debate after he admitted stretching the country’s annual growth target in an attempt to boost confidence in the economy, Financial Times reports.

Mr. Kittirat told a conference that he believed the earlier export projection of 15% was “unachievable” and the government cut the forecast to 9%.

“The finance minister needs to lie sometimes to create good feelings,” he justified. Mr. Kittirat added that the ‘white lie’ was aimed at “creating confidence” and went on to say that higher domestic consumption, government spending and private investment would compensate for the lower exports. According to the National Economic and Social Development Board, Thailand’s economy grew 4.2% in the second quarter from 0.4% in the previous quarter.

Still, the half-truth was met with criticism from many – including economists and business leaders – and questioned government forecasts. Deputy leader of the opposition Democrats and former finance minister Korn Chatikavanji told the FT that he was “incredulous” to hear Mr. Kittirat justifying “intentionally deceiving the public”.