In a speech to Asean ambassadors and high-ranking officials at the Foreign Ministry yesterday, he said policy-makers needed to be goal-oriented, consistent, proactive and to coordinate with one another, because the country is bracing for greater challenges in light of rapid changes in the global economy.
Meanwhile, academics at a Thai Publica seminar, “Brainstorm on Fiscal Cliff, Thai Government Debts”, also attacked the government yesterday for policies not designed to boost long-term national competitiveness, saying they could create a Thai version of the “fiscal cliff”. Global challenges – particularly the slowdown of the Chinese economy – were a warning that Thailand, at the national and individual levels, must be more cautious in spending. In the first quarter, Thai household debts reached 77 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), mainly due to stimulus measures launched in recent years.
Prasarn urged the government to pay more attention to national development plans, which cover all areas of society and the economy, and require action.
“Any subsequent policies must be drawn in line with national goals. The goals and national development plans should not be left idle on the shelf,” he said.
Aside from setting goals, policy-makers should not shift focus. Singapore and Malaysia had advanced quickly because of policy consistency, he said.
Policy-makers should also be alert to global challenges and be willing to coordinate, as no single party can achieve success.
“If Thailand is a ship navigating in the sea, the ship has travelled a long distance. Yet, it will have to sail further and the destination is not within sight. Our journey has suffered from monsoons and we have been side-tracked and unknowingly got involved too much with ad-hoc problems, which cost us time and money. Yet, if we regain our senses, set sail at full speed and lead the ship towards our goal, we won’t be vulnerable to monsoons and reach the goal in a fast and sustainable way,” he said.
At the Thai Publica seminar, Sethaput Suthiwart-Narueput, chief of the Thailand Future Foundation, said future budget allocation must answer national strategies and be in line with expected returns and cost-benefit analysis. All projects with costs that cannot be defined, like the rice-pledging scheme, must be scrapped, Sethaput said.
A foundation study found that in 2009-10, government annual expenditure rose 9.2 per cent on average – above average growth of 7.2 per cent. Funds were allocated on a ministerial basis, rather than according to national strategies. In these years, little money was put to scientific and technological innovation or energy to boost competitiveness.
Generally, the allocation pattern did not support the evaluation of economic returns, particularly the evaluation of central budgets, he said. At some ministries like Education, which saw its budget double in 10 years, the level of Thai scientific knowledge, according to PISA rankings, in 2009 was lower than in 2010. And logistical competitiveness fell from 31st in 2007 to 38th in 2012, although budgets for the Transport Ministry increased every year.
Part of the Bt350-billion budget for the water projects would be earmarked to tackle specific problems in the provinces, she said, adding that dual-track trains and road construction in the provinces would be part of the Bt2-trillion infrastructure project.
Investment in the projects will lead to employment for local people, the premier said. The provinces’ economies must grow along with the national economy, she said.
Government Spokesman Teerat Ratanasevi said residents of Maha Sarakham and Buri Ram had less access to tap water than people in the rest of the country.
Meanwhile, studies would be conducted to implement agricultural zoning in the provinces. Organic jasmine rice, silk and tourism had potential and should be promoted, he said.
After a meeting with students from Maha Sarakham University and Maha Sarakham Rajabhat University, Yingluck said she wanted the universities and technical colleges in the province to serve as education hubs that produce graduates for the Northeast. Moreover, the universities had skills that could be harnessed by the Agriculture Ministry for use in its research on rice breeds, in order to ensure that more rice products from the province meet GMP (good manufacturing practice) standards, she said.
The premier said the National Economic and Social Development Board would use the knowledge and information gathered from her visit on Sunday and yesterday to develop strategic plans for other provinces in the future.
Similar celebrations will also be held in other parts of the country. Singthong said he would also try to get members of Thaksin’s family to join the event in Nonthaburi.
“This could lead to unfair trade practices,” Deputy Commerce Minister Natthawut Saikua said yesterday.
Lottery trading has been increasing every month. The ministry needs to look into the reason as many small operators are in the industry, he said.
According to the Business Development Department, new lotto vendor registrations reached 1,521 in May. However, only 267 of those have clear addresses, while the rest have shared shareholders. Some addresses are shared by more than 20-40 lotto traders.
Last month, 818 new lotto sellers signed up, of which 97 have clear address and the others duplicated addresses.
The department also reported that 1,170 companies went out of business last month, a jump of 41 per cent from May and a rise of 12 per cent from June last year.
Of the closed-down business, 34 were exporters. There were fewer export businesses failing because the baht lost some of its strength.
Last month, new business regi
— Phuket Gazette Editors