Today's article is a letter to the editor from Thailand's Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij answering critics of the government's Pracha Wiwat policy.
Mr. Korn defines populist policies as "policies that are largely created by politicians, designed chiefly to win votes but are unsustainable and cause a heavy budgetary burden."
Here are some questions for the reader to keep in mind and ask themselves while reading the article:
1. What is the big problem that has arisen from policy-making by individual government departments in the past?
2. How has this problem been overcome in the new policy, according to Mr. Korn?
3. How does the new approach to loans differ from the traditional approach of helping people through "debt forgiveness" ?
4. How could the new policy save the government money in the future?
5. How could this new policy be more sustainable in the future?
6. Is it really different from policies in the past? How?
7. Do you find Mr. Korn's argument convincing?
Click button to listen to Pracha Wiwat Policy and rightclick to download
POST BAG: Pracha Wiwat is not a populist plan by KORN CHATIKAVANIJ, Finance Minister
The editorial critique of the government's Pracha Wiwat programme was thoughtfully written and posed some important questions (''Old wine in a new bottle'', Dec 24, link to article).
I believe the main concerns relate to the fear that policies derived from the Pracha Wiwat process would be ''populist'' - defined as policies that are largely created by politicians, designed chiefly to win votes but are unsustainable and cause a heavy budgetary burden.
I do not believe this is a fair description of the policies derived from the Pracha Wiwat process.
It is new and is designed to created a ''total government'' policy-making process that overcomes the age-old problems of departmental and ministerial compartmental approach. Most public issues require the involvement of a number of government agencies. Traditionally, these agencies will work independently from each other, sometimes at cross-purposes and often using different sets of data and assumptions.
In order to find effective and rapid solutions to problems, the prime minister conceived of the Pracha Wiwat process where, upon his command, all relevant agencies were brought under one roof, literally, to work until a credible proposal was found.
The Pracha Wiwat process started with the government listening to the needs of the people, prioritising their needs and posing them as problems requiring solutions.
The government then ''invited'' around 80 officials and academics from 30 agencies to work full time on these problems.
They were provided with full facilities at the Government Centre, Chaeng Watthana and were encouraged to talk directly with the target groups. The prime minister empowered them to think out of the box and to address these problems in a practical and sustainable manner.
So far, nothing ''populist'' in this.
The civil servants, academics and other interested parties, suddenly given this freedom and power, found a level of creativity that surprised themselves and certainly surprised us.
Their proposals will be taken up by the government and announced by the prime minister on Jan 9. Many of these proposals simply involve a different, more efficient way of doing things. Some will involve changes to ministerial decrees and some even amendments to the law.
Participation in the provision of credit to allow access to formal financing to those previously precluded will be done on terms determined by the state-owned banks, without government support.
Direct budgetary support will be required, but this is not by any stretch the key element of policies derived from the Pracha Wiwat process.
Indeed, this is consistent with this government's attempts to reach out to help those in need in a responsible way. When we launched the loan-shark debt relief programme, many debtors were disappointed that it was not a simple policy of debt-forgiveness. We were giving debtors a fair deal by refinancing their exorbitant loans, but we were certainly not willing to give them a free deal.
Furthermore, we are now embarking on a programme to provide basic financial literacy through our nationwide ''debt doctor'' schemes. Education is the key to genuinely and sustainably reducing the debt problem. This is being managed by institutions that know how, the state-owned banks.
I am proud of the fact that both the Government Savings Bank and the Bank for Agriculture and Co-operatives have recently won accolades as Banks of the Year in Thailand. I do not think this would be possible if they were mere policy slaves of the government.
I hope this goes some way in explaining the rationale behind the approach of Prime Minister Abhisit's government. I might add that sometimes, wine in a bottle may look familiar, but closer scrutiny will usually help you separate plonk from vintage.
(Source: Bangkok Post, POST BAG, Pracha Wiwat is not a populist plan, 28/12/2010, KORN CHATIKAVANIJ, Finance Minister, link)
populist - "policies that are largely created by politicians, designed chiefly to win votes but are unsustainable and cause a heavy budgetary burden"
editorial - an article in a newspaper that gives the opinion of the author or newspaper
critique - an examination and judgement about something, an evaluation (includes negative comments)
pose question - ask a question (during analysis to come up with questions that need to be answered to gain a more full understanding)
concerns - worries ความกังวล
process - a series of actions that you take in order to achieve a result แนวทางปฏิบัติ, กระบวน, วิธีการ
unsustainable - cannot continue for a long time into the future
burden - a serious or difficult responsibility that you have to deal with ภาระ (See glossary)
heavy budgetary burden - some project or set of projects that require a lot of government spending, using up a lot of the government spending budget
X derived from Y - coming from, created from
policy - a plan of action to guide decisions and achieve outcomes (See Wikipedia) นโยบาย
overcome - to succeed in dealing with a problem, successfully solve a diffficult problem
overcome a problem - solve the problem
age-old problems - problems that have existed for a very long time (probably for hundreds of years)
compartment - one separate place or container การแบ่ง
approach - a way of doing or dealing with and solving a problem การจัดการกับปัญหา, วิธีการทำให้ถึงจุดหมาย
departmental and ministerial compartmental approach - dealing with and solving problems only at the level of each government department (not seeking a solution that applies to all departments)
public issues - issues that have an effect on all the people in a country or area of a country (and therefore have to be dealt with by the government, not just a private business issue)
issues - subjects that need to be considered ประเด็น
work independently - work separately, not work together
at cross-purposes - working in opposite directions, trying to achieve opposite and inconsistent goals (confronting each other so that neither achieves its goal) สวนทาง
data - facts or information used for making calculations or decisions ข้อมูล
set of data - a collection of related data
assumption - something you consider to be true without proof (or likely to be true), presupposition, presumption, hypothesis ข้อสมมติ
effective - producing the result that was intended ได้ผลดี
rapid - fast, happening quickly อย่างรวดเร็ว
prime - main or most important ที่สำคัญที่สุด
X conceived of Y - X came up with or created idea Y
command - to control an electronic device
relevant - directly connected with and important to what is being discussed or considered ที่เกี่ยวข้องโดยตรง
brought under one roof - combined and given one leader and management
credible - able to be believed or trusted น่าเชื่อถือ
proposal - a plan or suggestion for a group to consider ข้อเสนอ
priority (noun) - important thing (that must be done before other things)
prioritising - treating somethings as more important than others (to be done first)
pose problem - state or say what a proboem is (define the problem)
academics - professors and lecturers at universities and colleges
facilities - the buildings, equipment and services provided for a particular purpose, specially equipped place to do a certain activity (for example, athletics facilities) สิ่งอำนวยความสะดวก, สถานที่และสิ่งอำนวยความสะดวก
encouraged - having more confidence or hope about something มีกำลังใจ
target - a goal, something you are planning to achieve เป้าหมาย
target group - a group that the policy is aimed at (solving some problem involving that group)
empowered - given the legal power to do something
think out of the box - be creative, come up with or dream of ideas different from the ordinary usual ones
address - to try to deal with a problem or question จัดการกับปัญหา
practical - useful for real people in real situations, suitable for the situation in which something is used ที่ขึ้นอยู่กับความเป็นจริง
sustainable - able to be successfully continued for a long time ยั่งยืน, ถาวร
manner - way วิธีการ
civil servant - government workers (have a permanent job that is protected from interference by politicians) ข้าราชการ, ข้าราชการพลเรือน
academics - professors and lecturers wo teach and do research at universities
civil - of a case filed a court that deals with non-criminal matters, especially complaints made by people against other people or organisations คดีที่ยื่นฟ้องต่อศาลแพ่ง
parties - people or companies (involved in some situation or business deal)
freedom - the right to do (within limits) what you want to do, make your own decisions and express your own opinions ความเป็นอิสระ
power - the ability to influence and control events and people อำนาจ
take up proposal - actually do what a proposal suggests should be done (put "proposed" ideas into action)
efficient - producing a lot from few resources, doing a task with no waste of time, money or energy
decree - an order or command from some authoriity such as a ministry, judge or regulatory commission กฎ, ข้อบังคับ, พระราชกฤษฎีกา, คำพิพากษา
ministerial decrees - an order from or "issued" by a ministry
amendments to the law - changes to the law
provide (verb) - give
the provision of Y - the giving of Y
credit - loans (giving money to people to use for a time, at the end of the time period they give you the money back)
access - the ability to get something สิทธิหรือโอกาสในการใช้
access to formal financing - being able to get a loan at a bank (not having to go to a loan shark or illegal lender)
terms - conditions; requirements in an agreement, contract, or arrangement ข้อกำหนด
X determined by Y - Y is the one who made what X will be (or the force that caused X to be what it is)
support - help, by giving money, for example สนับสนุน
direct budgetary support - money coming out of the annual budget for government spending
not by any stretch - not by any stretch of the imagination (there is no way that someone could distort the facts to say that this is true)
key - important คนสำคัญ
X consistent with Y - matches, follows, does not contradict or go against
reach out to help those in need - make an effort to help those who have needs (those who are poor)
launched - started เริ่มต้นดำเนินการ
loan - an amount of money that a person, business or country borrows เงินกู้
loan sharks - people who offer loans at high interest rates often backed by violence or blackmail (See Wikipedia)
debt - an amount of money that you owe หนี้
relief - help; assistance การช่วยให้พ้นภัย of help given to people in need (ถุง) ยังชีพ
debt relief - helping borrowers who are having problems paying back money they borrowed (loans)
debtors - people or companies with loans, that owe others money
disappointed - unhappy because someone or something was not as good as you hoped or expected, or because something did not happen ผิดหวัง
simple - easy to understand; not complicated ง่าย,ไม่ยุ่งยาก, ไม่ซับซ้อน
debt-forgiveness - when borrowers are set free from their debts (don't have to pay back the money they borrowed)
fair - a situation in which all are treated equally
fair deal - a business "deal" (such as buying or selling things) or other economic arrangement in which everyone in the deal is treated equally (no special treatment for some people)
refinancing - getting new funds to operate the business
exorbitant - (especially of prices or demands) much too large มากเกินไป สูงเกินไป
embarking on - starting (some activity or project)
provide - to give someone something that they want or need
literacy - 1. the ability to understand the basics of a subject that is important for day-to-day life and success, 2. the ability to read and write (See Wikipedia)
financial literacy - the ability to understand enough finance to be able make good personal finance decisions (See Wikipedia)
basic financial literacy - the most important and most needed items of financial knowledge and skill
finance - the study of the management of money and the raising of funds for investment in businesses (corporate finance), the government (public finance) or the individual or family (personal finance), the study of investments stocks, bonds and derivatives using the central concepts of asset, time, money and risk (See Wikipedia)
personal finance - applying the principles of finance to the monetary decisions of an individual person or family, how to save and invest money for future uses such as education of children or retirement (See Wikipedia)
literacy - the ability to read and write อ่านออกเขียนได้
nationwide - throughout a whole country ทั่วทั้งประเทศ
schemes - systems for achieving some goal
institutions - large and important organizations, such as banks (financial insitutions) and universities สถาบัน
Government Savings Bank (GSB) - the oldest government run bank started in 1913 (See history)
Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Co-operatives (BAAC) - Thai government bank specialising in microfinance and banking for farming households (See website and a case study [pdf])
accolades - praise
mere - not large or important เพียงเท่านั้น
rationale - a reason for doing something มีเหตุผลที่ดีในการทำสิ่งนั้นๆ
familiar - well-known and easy to recognize คุ้นเคย, เคยชิน, ซึ่งเป็นที่รู้จัก
scrutiny - careful and thorough examination การตรวจสอบอย่างละเอียด
vintage - meaning "vintage wine"
vintage wine - wine that has sat and "aged" for a long time and reached a very high level of quality
separate plonk from vintage - separate the good wine from the bad wine (more generally: separate the good from the bad)
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