However, he admitted yesterday that the figure was aimed at encouraging the government agencies concerned to work harder to achieve the goal.
Mr Kittiratt, also a deputy prime minister, was responding to a question in parliament by Democrat MP Kiat Sittheeamorn who asked him to explain why he had confessed to telling a "white lie" that Mr Kiat said had been reported in more than 500 news articles published by both the Thai and foreign media.
"[My] white lie was definitely not a lie. I'm not good at paraphrasing phrases like 'rally crackdown' into 'reclaim the public space'," he said, apparently referring to the Abhisit Vejjajiva administration's coining of a new term to tone down how it dispersed the red-shirt rallies in April-May 2010.
Mr Kittiratt earlier conceded in public that the 15% export target was simply a white lie.
He said yesterday he had been criticised as being naive to admit it and that he should instead have kept quiet or said he had tried his best but could not achieve the goal.
"I, Mr Kittiratt Na-Ranong, deputy prime minister and finance minister, didn't lie, have not lied, and did not intend to lie," he said.
He said the government agencies responsible for projecting the export goal told him they thought exports were likely to grow 15% this year.
Although he did not really agree with them, he chose to say nothing for fear that if he objected this would cause problems, Mr Kittiratt said.
Going against the ethical code of political position holders regarding dissemination of accurate information to the public, Mr Kittiratt's announcement of an unrealistic export target had resulted in damage to exporters, Mr Kiat said.
If exporters had believed Mr Kittiratt and planned their businesses according to the 15% projection, their losses could have been huge, he said. The government later slashed its export target to 5.9%.
However, Thai commercial counsellors and Thai trade ministers in 65 countries predict exports this year will grow by 7.2%, in a new projection set during a meeting in Bangkok yesterday.
Several counsellors said it is possible that exports will meet the latest goal but only on the condition that exports for the last five months of the year reach a minimum of US$21.37 billion a month.