Budget strategies set for fiscal 2014
Equality, environment among priorities, PM says
Thailand will gear itself in the 2014 fiscal year towards upgrading from being a middle-income country to one where equality, environmental concern and fiscal discipline are to the fore, along with a workforce that is ready for investment, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said yesterday.
After a meeting organised by the Budget Bureau to affirm the budget's direction for the next fiscal year, which begins in October, the prime minister said the priorities for fiscal 2014 were designed to respond to the Kingdom's national strategies.
They are focused on maintaining existing revenue bases, creating new sources of revenue, enhancing the nation's production system and reducing production costs for the business sector with a view to achieving better living, equality and higher competitiveness, she explained.
Currently, the nation's main economic figures are satisfactory, with improvements seen in both business and consumer confidence, Yingluck said.
Some 2,500 projects are subject to applications for promotional privileges from the Board of Investment, while the country's foreign reserves remain stable at 48 per cent of gross domestic product. Public debt, meanwhile, is steady at 43.9 per cent of GDP.
"The three major groups - agriculture, industry, and tourism and services - will help expand revenue. The existing [revenue] bases will be strengthened and new ones will be added. For example, we see a lower customer base in Europe. We have to retain a good customer base there, and increase new markets in Asean," Yingluck said.
Among the four major strategies set out in relation to the next fiscal year, the first is to enhance the nation's long-term competitiveness to upgrade the Kingdom from the middle-income level, said the PM.
This can be done through a combination of the development of future industries and the retention of existing industries and services; improvement of One Tambon One Product and small and medium-sized enterprise capabilities; zoning for agriculture, industry and tourism; and development of the country's logistics system, energy infrastructure and information system. The second strategy aims to build opportunities and social equality, with the expectation of less poverty and better income distribution through educational reform to meet industrial demand, welfare improvement, development of production, workforce and operators, and healthcare personnel improvement.
The third is to establish an environment-friendly quality of life by reducing the greenhouse effect through natural-resources and water management, controlling energy use in industries and households, fiscal policy for the environment and ecological industry development.
The fourth strategy is to balance and develop the state administration system with a view to greater efficiency and transparency. This can be done through e-government, legal reform and good governance, said the prime minister.
"To grow the country together with the environment, a budget is required for infrastructure, more productivity and research. These [elements] connect revenue with the environment, as quality people and knowledge need to be provided," Yingluck said.
Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said after the meeting that Thailand's GDP was expected to rise while budgetary expenditure would likely fall and reach a balance in the next three years.
"If we follow the planned strategies and the Bt2-trillion investment for infrastructure, Thailand could grow with more sustainability," he said.
The Finance Ministry and the Transport Ministry are considering the Bt2-trillion investment plan in detail before forwarding it to the Cabinet.
Kittiratt insisted the plan would not affect fiscal discipline, partly because of the gradual drawing down of the investment budget over a seven-and-and-a-half-year period.