IN THE NEXT 30 years, THE THAI economy is targeted to expand by 4-5 percent per annum over the next 30 years, according to National Economic and Social Development Board.
NESDB’s secretary-general Porametee Vimolsiri told Krungthep Turakij newspaper that Thailand that a key target of the 20-year national strategic framework (2017-2036) was for the Kingdom to grow to the status of a “developed country”. A narrowing in wealth inequality and income were also included.
“According to the target, if the economy grows 5 percent in a period of 20 to 30 years, we will be upgraded to the group of high-income countries. Other countries like Vietnam will be grouped to medium to high growth. Myanmar and Laos will move into middle-income countries. Our country and Indonesia will rise to become high-income countries like Singapore,” he said.
Challenges for national development, particularly over the next five years, do not only exist in economic growth, but also in achieving narrower economic and social inequality to solve Thailand’s prolonged structural problems, he said.
He said that if Thailand could narrow financial inequality over the next 30 years, so that most people enjoy a medium-level income, people’s consumption and spending will increase. During the same period of time, major changes are likely to be seen in manufacturing and new services extended from existing economic activities.
As generally said, the targeted industries - as extensions of the existing production base or so-called New S Curve, span from electric vehicle production to new products such as solar cells and renewable energy. Therefore, changes will become more obvious during the first five years of the national strategic plan or the 12th NESDB plan. This is in line with global changes and the needs of the nation’s economic development. Businesses will be directed towards digital technology, while usage and transactions and activities will trend more online.
Another challenge for the country’s economy is that over the next 30 years most people will be elderly and Thai society will become an ageing society. In the next 20 years or by 2037, Thailand will enter a period of peak ageing, meaning that more than 30 per cent of the population will be elderly and the workforce will shrink. One solution is to boost labour efficiency, particularly in manufacturing.
One solution is education reform to allow people to learn about technologies which will form the basis of people’s work in the next decade.
“Thailand is not losing its advantages or lagging behind her regional peers,” Porametee said. “However, several countries are chasing us. So, we must speed up, particularly in relation to enhancing our skills in digital technology and languages. More technology will be needed in the 21st Century and will link societies. Learning must continue throughout your lifetime and subjects to be studied must focus more on creative thinking and multi skills.”
Porametee said that NESDB’s main role may not change much in the next 30 years, when it will still act as an agency to plan and drive government policy, supporting development and the long-term national agenda. Both short-term and urgent problems must be resolved with the Prime Minister and the Cabinet in order to find solutions through efficient policies.
What will change for NESDB will be in the procedures it adopts to cope with global situations and rapidly changing conditions. A key issue will be how to plan for long-term national development, such as the 20-year national strategy in relation to disruptive technology in industry. This will be an economic challenge for the country. Meanwhile, Thailand’s economy, ageing population and general health must be adjusted to develop together harmoniously in every aspect.
“Aside from its existing work with the government and its five-year development plan, NESDB’s responsibilities will be extended to long-term development plan,” Porametee said. “For example, there will be the population structure and an energy plan which will need to cope with reforms and national strategies. This is the hope for the nation’s economic development in the long term.”