July 18, 2014 00:00 By Petchanet Pratruangkrai
The Federation of Thai Industries believes that the economic measures it has proposed to the Joint Public Private Committee and the National Council for Peace and Order will help fix underdevelopment in the South and improve the competitiveness of the Kin
Five organisations from the private sector, including the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), on Wednesday discussed with the Joint Public Private Committee (JPPC) and proposed 14 economic measures to stimulate the economy and improve the country’s competitiveness.
Some of the suggestions have been approved by junta chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, who presided over the meeting.
FTI chairman Supant Mongkolsuthree said the organisations successfully proposed extending the special development zone in the deep South by three years, especially for soft-loan projects, where Bt18.8 billion had already been used out of the budget of Bt25 billion.
It is hoped the measure will help fix underdevelopment in the region.
The special development zone is due to end on December 31.
"The measure will help with the development of the three provinces and four districts in the southern border areas via the continuous development of logistics and basic soft infrastructure, and it will increase confidence in terms of the state’s effort to lower the problem in the South border areas," he said.
The JPPC approved the time extension and ordered the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Labour, and the Board of Investment to consider all the details and effects of the extension and deliver their results to the NCPO before the end of the month.
Other measures proposed by the FTI, such as the approval of the second phase of the Bt500-million innovation coupon project, which is designed to improve the competitiveness of SMEs, have also been approved by the JPPC.
Supant believes that the coupon project can help improve one of the most important aspects for SMEs – innovation.
He said it was expected the project would help improve the competitiveness of up to 500 SMEs by an average maximum of around Bt1 million per operator and it was expected to produce around 150 new products this year.
FTI vice chairman Vallop Vitanakorn said the approval of the innovation budget for SMEs would help them lower the cost of developing new products in terms of research and testing.
He said the coupon project was an ongoing FTI endeavour that aimed to increase SME competitiveness in conjunction with the proposal to increase the Credit Guarantee Corporation’s role in providing loan guarantees for SMEs from 18-50 per cent.
Supant said there was a need to improve laws that governed trading and investment activities, as some of them were an obstacle for development and business competitiveness.
He welcomed the NCPO’s decision to revise around 139 bills concerning the issue.
He said the private sector wanted to be a part of the revision of the law that directly governed trade and investment activities and the request was well received by the NCPO.
Pramoth Vanichanont, an adviser to the chamber's rice strategy working committee and the Thai Rice Farmers Association, expects that the NCPO will come up with a long-term policy and strategy to develop the rice industry in the long run and, in the short term solve the rice-price issue for farmers. He said the junta needed to outline a clear policy on the rice industry by not allowing any political party to create its own policy, with the government only having the duty of following up on long-term development plans.
This would result in the industry being free from a political agenda.
He said that along with developing the rice trading through the Agriculture Future Exchanges of Thailand, the NCPO needed to listen to opinions from all involved parties to develop rice farming and trading sustainably.