Contender for FTI chair seeks urgent and long-term economic policies

Economy March 12, 2014 00:00

By Pichaya Changsorn
The Nation

Visit Limprana, one of the two contenders for the chairmanship of the Federation of Thai Industries, advocates urgency and longer-term policies catered to tackling the economic problems that the FTI will push forward to the government.

The urgent measures include solving the liquidity problems of manufacturers, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, tackling problems of the export sector, pressing for the end of the Bangkok state of emergency, reviving the image and confidence in the investment and tourism sectors and of the country, and setting up a working group to study and recommend ways to reverse the current economic slowdown.
His longer-term policy initiatives include asking the government to review its controversial rice pledging programme, preventing political intervention in the consideration of minimum-wage adjustments, and supporting the eradication of corruption, including vote-buying, in local and national elections.
The FTI is scheduled to meet on Monday to elect 232 people as directors. Together with the 116 people appointed by provincial chapters, the FTI board will choose the successor to former chairman Payungsak Chartsutipol.
Visit, a vice chairman of the FTI and chairman of its food processing club, is pitted against Supant Mongkolsuthree, another vice chairman. Whoever wins, it will be the first time for the FTI to be led by a family-business owner, not a professional manager. 
Visit is managing director of Nguan Soon, a spices and herbs company, while Supant is chief executive of Synnex (Thailand), a distributor of information-technology products, and vice chairman of TKS Technologies, a printing and warehouse firm.
FTI vice chairman Thanit Sorat, who supports Visit, said the economy was “sinking” and it needed to be rescued quickly.
“I have been doing business for 30 years, witnessing the [Asian financial] crisis. This time it is very hard and will be lengthy … at least until 2015” before it can recover, he said.
Visit said his campaign’s promise was “compete but not divide”. He would invite “the other side” to join his team if he is elected. 
Thanit, who led a group that voted Payungsak out of the post in 2012, citing the FTI chairman’s weak stance in fighting against the government’s increase of the minimum wage to Bt300 a day nationwide, said he would accept the results of the March 17 election if the process is transparent and “just”.