Over Bt130 bn eyed for new ‘innovation ministry’background-defaultbackground-default

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Over Bt130 bn eyed for new  ‘innovation ministry’

Over Bt130 bn eyed for new ‘innovation ministry’

WEDNESDAY, April 24, 2019

THE GOVERNMENT is expected to allocate at least Bt130 billion per year for the new ministry of higher education, research and innovation.

The draft law for the establishment of this ministry, which will combine the Ministry of Science and Technology with several other agencies, including the Office of Higher Education Commission (Ohec), has already sailed through the National Legislative Assembly (NLA). 
The bill should be royally endorsed by June 25, or within 90 days of the NLA giving it the green light. 
“We are in the process of discussing the funds for this new ministry with the Budget Bureau,” Deputy Education Minister Udom Kachintorn said yesterday. 
According to him, the new ministry should get no less than Bt130 billion a year for normal operations plus additional funds for research and development. 
Udom said the current annual budgets for the Ministry of Science and Technology and Ohec amount to Bt130 billion, but since the new ministry will also include the National Research Council and the Thailand Research Fund more funds will be required. 
“This ministry needs a budget for R&D too,” Udom said, adding that preparations for the ministry’s establishment are 70 per cent complete. 
At present, he said, only about 0.4 or 0.5 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product is spent on R&D. 
However, he added, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has announced that he wants 1.5 per cent of the country’s GDP to be spent on R&D by 2021. 
The Cabinet hopes the establishment of the new ministry will be announced in the Royal Gazette after the new government is formed. In that scenario, the minister for the new ministry can be named as part of the new Cabinet line-up.
“But if the royal endorsement is granted during this government’s term, a caretaker minister will be named for the new ministry,” Udom said.