Nine political party’s find common ground at Thai capital markets seminar
It is urgent to reform economic and capital-market regulations in Thailand to ensure the country continues to grow into the region’s trade and investment hub, representatives from nine political parties agreed on Saturday.
They also agreed that small and medium-sized enterprises need support to access capital markets.
The consensus – which is especially rare during an election campaign – was reached at a seminar hosted by the Stock Exchange of Thailand and the Federation of Thai Capital Market Organisations.
Perhaps its name – "Policy outlook and directions to drive Thailand’s economy and capital market under a newly elected government" – instilled seriousness and decorum. Whatever the cause, the seminar seemed to bring out the best of each political party: Chart Pattana Kla, Ruam Thai Sang Chart, Pheu Thai, Democrat, Bhumjaithai, Palang Pracharath, Move Forward, Chart Thai Pattana, and Thai Sang Thai.
They discussed how decades of startling growth as well as the increased sophistication of the country's capital markets has allowed Thailand to play a leading role in the Asean region in several sectors, including tourism, capital markets, infrastructure, logistics, and manufacturing.
However, as the global economy continues to shift, new challenges, including climate change, arise and uncertainty persists.
Each representative highlighted their party’s economic priorities and summarised what they would do if they were elected to form the next government.
The following synopsis from each party representative is provided in the order they spoke.
Chart Pattana Kla
Korn Chatikavanij, former finance minister and leader of the Chart Pattana Kla Party, said his party will restructure the country's economic model to ensure fair competition and simplify regulations so that small businesses can better access loans.
Korn also promised to diversify Thailand's capital market so that investors have new businesses to invest in. This will include those that currently operate in the shadows, like gambling.
Thailand must accept the potential of gambling businesses and ensure they are registered and properly regulated, Korn said.
This will also allow investors to expand their portfolios and give the country a new source of income.
United Thai Nation (Ruam Thai Sang Chart)
Chayotid Kridakon of the newly formed United Thai Nation Party said the government’s policies must be completed. It will invest in basic infrastructure nationwide to turn Thailand into Asean's logistics hub. It will also encourage new industries to form under the Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) economic model, such as electric vehicles.
This will help Thailand develop sustainably, Chayotid said.
He agreed with Korn that capital market diversification would draw more investors and make it easier for SMEs to gain access to the bourse.
Modern financial technology such as blockchain and digital assets, as well as new mechanisms that allow people to co-invest or co-own new businesses, should be encouraged, he said.
Phaophum Rojanasakul of the Pheu Thai Party said that it will prioritise Thailand's digital economy because this new industry is growing rapidly and can provide the country with an opportunity to be a key part of the global supply chain.
Because Thailand is a small country with an open market, it needs to be well-prepared for digital trends, Phaophum said.
As the government invests heavily in digital infrastructure, it must also encourage people to to use digital assets and payment methods, he said, pointing to the party’s campaign pledge to give digital wallets to all citizens.
Digital wallets embedded with blockchain technology will help the government identify those who require assistance while also improving security and transparency.
In terms of capital markets, Pheu Thai encourages Thailand to find a strong identity to attract investors. Phaophum mentioned New York’s Nasdaq as an example of a bourse with a strong identity.
He agreed with other party representatives that providing easy access for retail investors was important.
A Pheu Thai government will not collect capital gains tax, he said.
Pisit Leeahtam of the Democrat Party said it is the government's responsibility to increase consumption and revenue through proper budget expenditures.
The country's public debt is no longer burdened by ineffective populist policies, Pisit said.
A Democrat government will allocate its budget with simple but strict monitoring mechanisms. It will open village banks in all communities across the country so that local residents will have a source of capital to invest in their businesses.
A cautious tax policy for stock exchanges is required and parties must freely discuss the pros and cons of any regulation before it is implemented, Pisit said.
Puttipong Punnakanta of the Bhumjaithai Party said addressing debt is the priority.
Thai entrepreneurs, both small and large, are now saddled with massive debts that are preventing them from growing, he said.
His party will offer a three-year debt relief programme. It will not be debt forgiveness. Instead, the payment period will be extended with no interest added, Puttipong said.
Once debts are paid off, entrepreneurs will be able to expand more confidently, he said.
He agreed with Pisit that the tax policy for capital markets must be cautious. Rather than focusing on tax collection, it is better to simplify regulations to increase investor confidence, he said. A Bhumjaithai government will also launch new megaprojects to attract investors.
Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala of the Palang Pracharath Party said the benefits of economic growth must be balanced between businesses and people to prevent further inequality.
It also is the government's responsibility to make it easier for everyone to do business, Thirachai said.
His party will invest in people who need more tools, financial management knowledge, and a resilient mindset to make a living in the digital era, he said.
A Palang Pracharath government will increase Thailand's competitiveness by allocating 30 million baht to every Subdistrict Administrative Organisation nationwide over a five-year period so that each one can build their own foundation to meet their development demands.
Worapop Wiriyaroj of the Move Forward Party said his party's three main economic policies focus on people, regulations, and growth.
In order for the country's economy to progress, Thai people must be able to live comfortably. They should be able to get an education, find a good job, and live a happy life on their own, Worapop said.
All businesses must play by the rules, which means that state laws and regulations must be changed so that everyone can compete fairly, he said.
The government must forge new paths so the country can move forward, Worapop said. “Made with Thailand” rather than “Made in Thailand” should be the new slogan, he said, explaining that this will enable Thailand's private sector to integrate into the global supply chain.
A Move Forward government will develop the infrastructure necessary to support the data and creative economies. The latter will help add value to Thai films, music, culture, and other soft power, which will expand revenue sources.
Chart Thai Pattana
Santi Kiranand of the Chart Thai Pattana Party said his party does not believe in populist policies. A better way to improve people's economic status is to make it easier to access financial resources and to provide more opportunities, Santi said.
The party believes it is important to shift the focus from gross domestic product to quality of life and to reduce inequality to zero, he said.
A Chart Thai Pattana government will restructure the economy to promote new industries like agritech so that Thailand has a stronger engine to drive the country than tourism.
In terms of the capital market, he proposed rewriting old regulations to increase consolidation. The new regulations should be strictly enforced by the regulatory agencies, he said.
Thai Sang Thai Party
Suphan Mongkolsuthee, the leader of the Thai Sang Thai Party's economic team, said his party's priority was to strengthen people.
This means that the government must make it easier for people to live independently, Suphan said. Adjusting laws and regulations, removing credit bureau blacklists, encouraging innovation, and ending corruption are the party’s goals, Suphan said, adding that the ultimate goal of the Thai Sang Thai party is to make people happy.