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Marketing begins for junta’s 20-year national strategy

Marketing begins for junta’s 20-year national strategy

WEDNESDAY, June 06, 2018

THE junta’s controversial 20-year national strategy is all but ready for the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) to debate and the government will give priority to implementing projects that raise people’s incomes, Kobsak Pootrakool, the Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, said yesterday.

The government has finished the draft of the legislation for the national strategy – which will be binding on future governments – and will shortly send it to the NLA for debate, Kobsak said while promoting the plan to the public at CentralWorld, a shopping complex in Bangkok. The government regards the 20-year strategy as a key plank of its series of reforms and the bill is set to be rubber-stamped by the NLA.
The long-term strategy covers 11 areas ranging from national security to the economy in the fourth round of reforms initiated by the government, according to Kobsak.
“It is designed to solve the issue of inconsistency of government policies as new governments often cancel the policies of previous government and initiate new projects and each government has an average of two years in office,” he said.
In response to criticism from politicians who fear that the strategy is part of the junta’s efforts to straitjacket the new government to come in after next year's election, Kobsak said the strategy could be adjusted in line with a changing economic and social environment.
He pledged that that the government will give priority in its implementation to the reforms that improve the living standards of the people and reduce income inequality. 
He highlighted the issue of access to financial services. To promote this goal, many of the 100,000 or so savings cooperatives nationwide could be upgraded into community banks, he said, and in this way they would better serve the interests of local people.
The interests of small farmers would be better protected by a law on contract farming that took effect last year. Large companies often took advantage of small farmers in the contracts they struck with them, according to Kobsak. 
Local people will have more power to manage local natural resources as the government will allow them to have rights over community forests and they will be able to grow rare and high-value tree species on their own land.
Reducing inequality between the rich and the poor would be given priority. For example, the quality of education at schools in the provinces would be upgraded to the same standard as that in Bangkok, he said. Social welfare would be improved, he added.
Public administration will be reformed in order to make life much easier for the people since many laws and regulations have created bureaucratic red tape and other burdens for the people. And to ensure people’s participation, people or interested groups would be invited to formulate organic laws related to national strategy, Kobsak said. 
In an apparent response to criticism that the government had failed to improve ordinary people’s livelihoods in the four years since it seized power, Kobsak claimed that the government has started to implement many development projects. Last year the government established a new institution for water management, which could better deal with flooding or drought issues, he said. 
To promote businesses, the government had changed many laws and regulations and lately the government efforts have resulted in an upgraded ranking on the World Bank’s index for ease of doing business. The country moved up 20 places to 26th on the closely watched measure.