Building a better future: Thailand

Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith addresses the virtual conference “Future of Growth: Thailand Vision 2030” as the keynote speaker to mark the 20th anniversary of “Post Today”.

Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith outlined eight areas Thailand needs to work on over the next decade to increase the country’s competitiveness.

In a keynote address at a virtual conference titled “Future of Growth: Thailand Vision 2030” marking Post Today’s 20th anniversary, Arkhom said the country must adapt now to avoid an economic regression.

Thailand has a 20-year strategic plan divided into five-year action plans prepared by the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC), the government’s planning unit, he said.

The Minister outlined eight areas Thailand needs to address to improve its overall competitiveness over the next decade.

The first was climate change, he said.

As the global community sets the goal of carbon neutrality and net zero balance, Thailand must join the momentum.

One government policy designed to support a reduction in carbon emissions was its comprehensive plan to promote electric vehicles (EVs).

Another area was the promotion of digital technology, which is one of the 12 targeted industries. Digital technologies have played a key role over the past two years, especially in payment systems, peer-to-peer lending and cloud financing, Arkhom told the meeting.

He said the government will encourage such innovations, but the Bank of Thailand and the Securities and Exchange Commission will provide oversight to ensure they do not affect the country’s financial stability.

The third area was promoting the health and wellness industry, which has great potential, he said.

The private sector has taken the initiative and incorporated trends in health, well-being and life in the elderly into its business model. Property developers, for example, have built accommodation to accommodate older foreigners seeking long stays in Thailand.

Arkhom said the country needs to do more to promote SMEs, adding that the finance ministry is considering how to support those who want to invest and launch start-ups.

Although the tourism industry typically accounts for 12% of GDP, with up to 40 million international travelers visiting the country each year before the pandemic, Thailand needs to move from quantity to quality when it comes to tourism, said the Minister.

He said the country should pay more attention to attracting travelers with high purchasing power rather than relying on mass tourism, which is known to have a negative impact on the environment and natural resources.

Mr. Arkhom said the country should also create a social safety net, especially for grassroots people, and promote savings among the working population to help them meet their future vital needs.

He said the transition to an aging society remains a challenge for the country and requires careful planning.

Finally, Mr. Arkhom said that policymakers must also ensure fiscal sustainability by increasing the efficiency of revenue collection and broadening tax bases.

He described this as a global issue due to the massive government spending needed over the past two years to mitigate the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

By post from Bangkok

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