Ending monopolies, increasing farmers’ income some of the strategies put forward ahead of upcoming elections.
POLITICAL PARTIES got together yesterday to present different ideas to bridge the wealth gap in Thailand ahead of the upcoming general election.
Among the policies on offer were bringing an end to monopolies that do not benefit the public, judicial reform to prevent conflicts of interest, greater educational opportunities, healthcare coverage for all and bringing the minimum daily wage to Bt350.
Representatives of 10 political parties shared their strategies at an academic forum yesterday.
“Inequalities occur because a single business can enjoy a long-term monopoly thanks to help from powers-that-be,” Puea Chat Party’s leader Songkram Kitlertphairoj said. “If my party becomes part of the new government, we will stop these unfair monopolies.”
Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva echoed the opinion, saying his party planned to enforce competition laws.
“We have to prevent business alliances from taking advantage of people,” he said.
Abhisit also promised to improve public welfare and ensure a fair distribution of educational and healthcare services. “We aim to carry out judicial reform, which will help solve the conflict of interest among political office holders,” he added.
Key Pheu Thai Party member Noppadon Pattama said his party had prepared several policies to boost the lives of farmers.
“For instance, we plan to ensure that paddy is sold at no less than Bt10,000 per tonne,” he said, without explaining how this idea will be different from the controversial rice-pledging scheme implemented during the Yingluck Shinawatra administration.
Noppadon said his party planned to allow the growing of high-value plants in forest reserves and improve land laws for farmers. He said Pheu Thai also aimed to leverage technology for greater agricultural output.
“We will also raise the minimum daily wage to Bt350,” Noppadon vowed. The Yingluck-led administration had successfully achieved its election promise of bringing the daily minimum wage to Bt300.
In addition, Noppadon said those interested in learning would be given the right opportunities.
Meanwhile, Varawut Silpa-archa, who chairs the Chartthaipattana Party’s policy and strategy committee, said his party will ensure that the Education Ministry remains free of political interference.
“We will welcome the new generation in formulating national education strategies,” he said.
He added that the Chartthaipattana Party will also work on raising farmers’ incomes and improve their lives through the “farmer settlement project”.
Future Forward Party’s leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, however, suggested a holistic approach toward resolving inequality issues.
“Focus on improving people’s quality of life. Did you know that labourers hardly earn enough to survive even after working for 72 hours a week?” he asked.
Chartpattana Party’s adviser Wannarat Channukul put the inequality down to economic problems faced by a large number of Thais, especially farmers. “I believe these problems stem from the fact that the government has not invested enough in sustainable agriculture,” he said.
He added that a comprehensive development of water resources and efficiency would boost farmers’ incomes and naturally reduce inequality.
Preechaphol Pongpanit, leader of Thai Safe the Nation Party (sic), said his party would help needy people in the short term and use technology to improve people’s lives in the long run.
“Our focus will be farmers, who make up the majority of the population,” he said.
Bhumjaithai Party member Siripong Angkasakulkiat put the wealth gap down to people not getting equal opportunities.
“It’s time to cut down the power of state agencies and boost the power of the people,” he said.
Action Coalition for Thailand Party’s core member Anek Laotha-matas, said easing inequality was at the very foundation of democracy.
“To solve inequalities, my party intends to upgrade the Thai economy to 4.0 era,” he said.
Seree Ruam Thai Party’s executive Anukul Praepaisan said he believed political parties that were monopolised by a certain group will never really belong to the people. “It is these parties that allow economic monopolies,” he pointed out.