During a luncheon yesterday with Government House reporters, Prayut admitted that obstacles abound to his government’s economic-management efforts because the Thai economy is closely interlinked with the international economy.
But he pledged to take on the challenges after appointing Dr Somkid Jatusripitak as head of the government’s new economic team late last month.
Flanked by Somkid and other Cabinet members at the luncheon, the prime minister said the new economic tsar was ready to devote himself to improving the people’s well-being. Prayut also vowed to woo the international community during his visit to the United States this month to address the United Nations General Assembly.
He said Thailand needed to create a better understanding with the rest of the world about the country’s “transition”.
Thailand should be seen as a civilised place of economic growth, not a warring state, according to the prime minister, who will leave for New York on September 23 and return on October 1.
During his UN speech, Prayut plans to talk about Thailand’s sustainable economic development model and highlight His Majesty the King’s initiatives on sufficiency economy.
To revive Thailand’s economy, Prayut said, the government had announced new measures and incentives to help businesses and industries to regain confidence and invest. For example, the Cabinet on Tuesday approved legislative changes proposed by the Board of Investment to extend income-tax exemptions for innovation and high-tech projects to a maximum of 13 years from the current eight years.
Earlier, the Somkid team announced a series of economic-stimulus and financial-aid packages worth more than Bt300 billion for low-income earners and small and medium-sized enterprises.
Prayut said more measures were on the way to encourage consumers to spend their money to boost the domestic economy.
Some analysts have suggested that Thailand’s gross domestic product might grow by less than 3 per cent this year as projected by the government because the global economic slump has seriously affected the country’s exporters.
During the first seven months of this year, exports, which account for 70 per cent of Thailand’s GDP, dropped by more than 4 per cent from the same period last year, raising concerns that GDP growth would fall short of the target.
In addition, the country has faced challenges resulting from the issue of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing as well as the aviation-safety issue as raised by the European Union and the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
These issues could affect seafood exports to the EU and the tourism industry, which are major foreign-exchange earners. In addition, the United States recently maintained Thailand’s status at Tier 3, the lowest level in its annual report on trafficking in persons.
Since the coup led by Prayut on May 22 last year, the US and the EU have limited their official relations with Thailand while calling for the country to return to a democratic path.