The Nation


Economy Outlook

NESDB prepares economic report for next govt

Once the next government takes office, the National Economic and Social Development Board plans to hand over a report on the country's economy that will focus on fiscal discipline.

It will also review the effect of agricultural subsidies on the country's competitiveness.

NESDB secretary-general Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said that after the House of Representatives was dissolved, the board began preparing a report, which will assess the global economy and the Thai economic situation and direction for development, for the new government. The report will compile data from several economic agencies, gathered by the Cabinet Secretariat.

The information the NESDB is preparing includes monitoring of Thai and other economies, the nation's development level, problems and obstacles for national administration for the next four years, and assessment of national strategies.

"The NESDB will assess the nation's economic and social situations, resources and others, particularly the economic sector. The opportunities for growth in the next four years are included," Arkhom said.

To make policy recommendations on big-budget projects like the rice-pledging scheme, the NESDB will gather information, assess the situation and outline factors that could affect the economy and should be watched. Thailand's economic confidence depends mainly on fiscal sustainability and fiscal discipline, he said. Although the government has a policy to reach a balanced budget, investment is necessary for income generation and the nation's long-term competitiveness, he said.

Such investment includes improving the rail system to reduce costs and enhance economic opportunities.

Arkhom said Thailand might need to promote investment in the real sector and the environmentally friendly manufacturing sector, and focus on sustainability of the nation's development. The Board of Investment's new promotional measures, which will be announced by the new government, need to be clear, he said.

Special investment-promotional measures may be needed for certain industries, such as hard-disk drives, that have manufacturing bases in Thailand and are affected by technological changes. The goal is to encourage them to stay in Thailand.

"The new government may have to consider whether setting new policies is necessary. Will such policies provide returns or only cost money? Agricultural subsidies have become regular budget items but [their actual benefits] are not known. Usually, the government has [regular] expenditures for the underprivileged and [the elderly]," Arkhom said.

The planned transport-infrastructure development project needs to be maintained by the new government to improve the nation's competitiveness, he said, noting that Thailand's logistics costs remained high. The NESDB is also assessing such projects as upgrading the rail system for the new government's information when it sets policy.

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