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Digital projects spur rush for investment sweeteners

Jun 20. 2019
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By   THE NATION

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THE country’s digital industry is making rapid gains, with companies behind 46 projects worth Bt4.35 billion requesting investment promotional privileges in the first quarter of this year, the Board of Investment (BOI) said.

BOI deputy secretary-general Narit Therdsteerasukdi said that number of applications for the digital projects in the quarter jumped 108 per cent from the same period of last year.

Despite the high number, the projects for which the applications have been made amount to relatively small investments for each one, he said. These projects will help strengthen the foundations for the envisaged upgrade in Thailand’s industrial capacity.

From 2015 to 2018, the year the new national strategy was launched, applications for privileges came in for 846 projects valued at Bt26.53 billion. Most of these ventures involve software development, digital content and electronic platform services.

 “The number of applications for investment promotions has been sharply increasing. Investment has been made to develop complex software with higher value-added capacity such as embedded software, Big Data, data analytics and for cyber security,” Narit said.

Recently, the BOI approved a Bt117-million cyber-security project of RV Connex Co Ltd in Pathumthani province. This project will help strengthen the base and ecosystem of the digital industry, particularly in cyber security, in an attempt to prevent cyber threats in the country and from abroad.

In a visit to Ministry of Industry yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak ordered the ministry’s officials to accelerate plans to drive agri-industry as its first priority. The Department of Industry Promotion will need to cooperate with the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Products to work in communities and help the development of processed agricultural products with added value. 

The ministry has joined he Federation of Thai Industries and other institutions under the Industry Ministry in persuading the private sector to boost production efficiency by machinery upgrades and a shift to digital production.

Regarding specific projects, Cyberport Thailand must be accelerated by the ministry and Innospec (Thailand) to connect the Eastern Economic Corridor with Hong Kong, which could bring new industries such as financial technology to Thailand. The Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand is seeking suitable locations for the project. 

Somkid also asked the ministry to promote industrial estates in new areas nationwide by focusing on producing and processing local raw materials products under linkages with research and education institutions. SME Development Bank must take special care of the smaller small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), given their sensitivity to economic and political uncertainties.

“The Ministry of Industry must adjust itself clearly on how to be proactive, particularly in the agricultural industry for budgets and the workforce. Institutions under the ministry must seek the ways to join in with these efforts,” Somkid said.

Phongcharn Samphaongern, acting president of SME Bank, said that in regard to an Bt8 billion soft loan for SMEs that was approved in the 2018 fiscal year, the bank has proposed that the government to increase the scale to Bt10 billion to aid those SMEs needing working capital. 

So far this year, the bank has extended about Bt18 billion in loans on expectations to lend Bt20 billion in the first half of this year. 

The bank’s target for loan extension is Bt57 billion for the whole of 2019, up about Bt20 billion from a year before. The loans are aimed at helping SMEs to cope with economic uncertainties. 

 

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