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Deputy PM says pandemic exposed problems in Thai economy, time to improve

Caitlin Ashworth



PHOTO: Nation Thailand

As the Covid-19 pandemic hit economies all over the world with business closures and travel bans, issues with Thailand’s economy were exposed, according to Deputy PM Supattanapong Punmeechaow. The country cannot go back to the way it was before the global outbreak, he says.

Thailand’s large tourism industry was battered by the lack of foreign visitors. Small and medium businesses were also heavily impacted, prompting the government to spend more than 800 billion baht in aid measures, the deputy prime minister said at an event in Bangkok.

“It is unacceptable to let Thailand slide back to the period before Covid-19. Since the global economy is changing we must be more proactive in attracting foreign investors.”

Supattanapong says the government will focus on investing in new industries to cut down on the reliance on export and tourism, adding that Thailand’s automotive industry will focus on the manufacturing of electric vehicles, known as EVs.

“EVs will create other related industries such as smart equipment manufacturing and electricity generating from renewable energy. This will create a great opportunity for Thailand to further invest in community power plants, as well as biomass and solar power plants in Laos.”

He says the government still has many projects in the coming year to boost the economy, attract foreign investors and build infrastructure for future expansion, such as building more Skytrain lines in Bangkok.

“Next year the government will also focus on creating economic opportunities at the grassroots level to reduce disparity… We cannot give people free handouts, we also need to create new jobs and new businesses that will support existing and future industries.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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  1. Avatar

    Graham White

    Friday, December 18, 2020 at 3:19 pm

    How many deputy PMs are there? Must be at least 4. Never heard of this one. Which one would take over if anything happened to Pinocchio?

  2. Avatar

    Mister Stretch

    Friday, December 18, 2020 at 4:02 pm

    Yep, that Skytrain is going to really help the 52 million people who don’t live in Bangkok.

    Fix the education system – educated people move an economy forward, make it easier to be a foreigner living in this country (like dispense with idiotic 90-day reporting rules), make it easier for foreigners to open a bank account, buy a house (keep the land, that makes sense to protect your sovereignty), get a driver’s license…navigate the bureaucracy.

    Look ahead and don’t copy what everyone else is doing. Every country that manufactures cars is going to be making EVs. Do something different. Move Thailand into the modern world by doing and creating something that Thailand can be at the forefront of…not just a mosquito of a participant.

    It’s rather stupid to say you aren’t going to depend on tourism and exports, but don’t make them the backbone of your economy…be flexible, have good training and education programs.

    Look ahead, ask for advice, the Thai way hasn’t worked, now try another way.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Friday, December 18, 2020 at 7:44 pm

      I agree with a lot of what you say, Mr S, but “the Thai way hasn’t worked”?

      Why do you say that? I’d suggest it’s worked pretty well, not just with Covid but with the economy and a lot of social issues such as medical care.


      With you 100% there – it’s holding Thailand back more than anything / everything else, but that’s how “the establishment” want it which is what makes it the real elephant in the room, bar none.

      As for the planned move to “cut down on the reliance on export and tourism” … why?


      Exports make up at least 40% of the economy, from canned food to pick up trucks, rice to motor bikes. Diversify, of course, but why plan on cutting down exports?

      As for tourism, despite the bleating it’s “only” some 12% of the economy and it’s there for Thailand to use: climate, culture, history, beaches, nightlife, even infrastructure. Why would anyone in their right mind not want to make the most of what they’ve got?

      • Avatar

        Notorious THA

        Saturday, December 19, 2020 at 3:13 am

        I believe the thugs in the government don’t like seeing Whitey – esp old, fat, bald – with their young local ladies.

      • Avatar

        Mister Stretch

        Saturday, December 19, 2020 at 1:03 pm

        “the Thai way hasn’t worked”? Why do you say that?
        I say that because Thailand isn’t flexible enough to move in a different direction now. It will take an immense effort to move any section of the economy in another direction. That Thai way of education, training, and dependency on specific industries have put us in the situation we find ourselves now – moribund with an overvalued currency.

        It’s not my contention that the country should reduced tourism or exports, but that we need a more diversified economy here.

    • Avatar


      Friday, December 18, 2020 at 8:37 pm

      Inspired to see your views on education & innovation – create job and ideas build Thai brands globally – follow South Korean success

    • Avatar

      Alte Ledertasche

      Friday, December 18, 2020 at 8:41 pm

      Look ahead ? In Thailand ? Impossible.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Friday, December 18, 2020 at 8:57 pm

      Not so sure I agree with you about “make it easier to be a foreigner living in this country”, though …..

      I’d suggest it’s at least as easy for a foreigner to open a bank account here as it is for a foreigner in the West, probably more, and what hurdles there are here are imposed by the West anyway; I’ve certainly never had a problem, either in the city or even out in the sticks.

      Buy a house, with a Thai keeping the land? I’ve never tried it, but apparently it’s perfectly possible although I can see the pitfalls!

      A driver’s license? Oh come on … it’s exactly the same for Thais, except instead of house papers you need a letter from immigration – and you can do the test in English! How can they make it any easier?

      The “idiotic 90-day report”? Yes and no … I thought I’d be clever last month and try it on-line for the first time, but as it was still “pending” after three weeks I had a two hour each way drive to the local immigration office after all, where it took less than two minutes, so it’s back to the Post Office, EMS, and 100 baht in tea money from now on. I can’t see the point, but I can’t get that upset about it.

      “Bureaucracy”? Well, I’ve seldom had to deal with it here fortunately and I understand many working here legally or illegally find it a nightmare – but I’m sure it’s no worse than Indonesia, the Land of the Photocopier.

      The biggest problem I’ve had here in nearly 30 years of living here was finding a decent builder 🙂

      • Avatar

        Toby Andrews

        Friday, December 18, 2020 at 10:54 pm

        To deny Mr Stretches post you write:
        Bureaucracy, I’ve never had to deal with it.!
        Yet you have just stated in the same post that you tried 90 day reporting online, and it did not work!
        AND you had to bribe the immigration! Stop defending the indefensible.

        • Avatar

          Issan John

          Saturday, December 19, 2020 at 12:25 pm

          Do they have Specsavers in Cambodia?

          I didn’t say “I’ve never had to deal with it”.

          I actually said “I’ve seldom had to deal with it”.

          “Seldom” isn’t “never”.

          … and I didn’t say I “tried 90 day reporting online, and it did not work!”.

          I actually said “it was still “pending” after three weeks”.

          “Pending” isn’t “not working”.

          No wonder you weren’t able to extend your visa any longer in Thailand and you had to scuttle across the border to Cambodia.

          As for having to “bribe the immigration”, my “100 baht in tea money” enclosed with my EMS / 90 day report pays for lunch for the unpaid student there on work experience who takes the EMS returned TM-47 from Immigration to the Post Office, ensuring that I get it back within three days rather than the ‘standard’ two weeks.

          I don’t see anything remotely “indefensible” about that.

  3. Avatar

    Unskilled executive

    Friday, December 18, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    There will be only a words how to solve the problems in Thailand, but nothing will happen as long as that circus is leading the country.

  4. Avatar

    Jesus Monroe

    Friday, December 18, 2020 at 4:12 pm

    How many deputies does it take to change a light bulb…..lost count…..but I’ll take a guess and say anyone with a bright idea…………

  5. Avatar


    Friday, December 18, 2020 at 6:43 pm

    Thailand is like one huge resort, what other business can you do when most people have little or low quality education?

  6. Avatar

    Issan John

    Friday, December 18, 2020 at 9:05 pm

    I think you need a bit more than cheap labour to be a successful tourist destination, although it probably helps … and there are plenty of people here, with and without an education, who aren’t involved in the tourist industry, shocking though that may be to some here.

  7. Avatar


    Saturday, December 19, 2020 at 12:56 am

    Couldn’t have put it better Mr stretch but once again Mr John pulls it to pieces while also agreeing with you, i have now found out he’s a man of many nations so that explains it all he can’t agree with all the different parts of himself lol

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Saturday, December 19, 2020 at 12:29 pm

      “Couldn’t have put it better Mr stretch”

      … well, at least you’re correct about one thing, if nothing else.

  8. Avatar


    Saturday, December 19, 2020 at 4:00 am

    When this particular PM talks about a post-covid economy, says he would like Thailand to be less reliant on tourism and exports.
    Is that wish really related to covid? Or is he wishing Thailand could withdraw from the world?
    It is tourism, oil and gas, exports that are the backbone of the country’s economy. If you want to diversify, it means creating opportunities based on your strengths.
    So start by creating new strengths. Education is where to begin investing in the future. No better place to spend your trade surplus.
    …. Actually I dont understand what on earth he’s talking about. Only an idiot would throw away what they’re good at (tourism and “exports” – I guess he means manufacturing), only an idiot would advise throwing awYymthe things you’re good at, and turning your hand to things you know nothing about and trying to compete with a lot of people who know a lot more than you.
    Deputy PM ? Oh please!

  9. Avatar

    James Pate

    Saturday, December 19, 2020 at 5:31 am

    Unless we all sat in the room and listened to the Deputy PM’s entire speech, it’s not really fair to critique it based on a few excerpts. The economy was sliding for years before Covid pushed it off the cliff, but that would be an admission of the regime’s failure. Educational, environmental and, bureaucratic reform won’t happen without a change in leadership. Time to hand over the reins.

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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