By THE NATION
When the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) took power two years ago, GDP stood at 0.8 per cent, Somkid said. The present government took two years to steer the country to 2.8 per cent growth last year due to cross-sector cooperation.
Despite the economic revival, Somkid said some people still believe there has not been a recovery because it had not yet spread to the grassroots level, especially farmers, who still have low incomes.
Moreover, the global economy is still sluggish, which has affected Thailand’s export sector, while the domestic private sector is not investing enough. Domestic investment is waiting for a full economic recovery before committing.
Somkid added that he had already consulted with Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha and the Finance Ministry on how to boost farmers’ income and reduce their household debt.
He said Thailand was undertaking comprehensive economic reforms in order to ensure sustainable growth. The country needs to get past the domestic headwinds that have dented its growth for a decade, ranging from the poor education system, lack of innovation, economic and social disparity, and poor basic infrastructure, he said.
He admitted that it would not be easy to complete the reforms overnight.
He said his motto was “build up Thailand’s new economy”, which would first involve the government strengthening the grassroots economy to boost people’s purchasing power.
The government has also approved a number of mega-transport infrastructure projects to create connectivity within the country and between Thailand and the region, which would channel the distribution of equal economic benefits and make the country the Asean connectivity hub, he said.
Somkid said he believed the Cabinet would approve the remaining mass transit projects this year, allowing construction to begin next year.
The government has also introduced measures to woo foreign investment to 10 target industries under its new “S-curve growth” policy, which refers to industrial clusters, and to promote measures to support the growth of startup businesses.
In addition, the government has promoted the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project as a new economic pillar over the next 30 years. The project, aimed at developing Thailand’s Eastern Seaboard into a leading economic zone in ASEAN, will be implemented in the three eastern provinces of Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao. The draft law governing the project’s development is waiting for Cabinet approval.
Somkid said that it would be easier to inject government spending as a quick way to boost GDP, but the government did not choose that option because it would not change the country’s economic fundamentals.