Competitiveness: Research & investment, not handouts

Investment only 15% of govt budget (target 25%). Research to improve rice yields, health & service sectors needed to stop decline.



Photo of researcher reading lab equipment (electrophoresis device) (Source: Wikipedia).

Click button to listen to Investment Competitiveness download

Opinion
COMMENTARY

Thailand must compete for a brighter future

11/10/2012
Parista Yuthamanop

One comment I keep hearing from business executives, economists and government officials who are concerned about our collective well-being is that we seriously need to improve our economic capabilities.

They're worried because global competitiveness surveys have shown that our economic competitiveness is falling behind other developing countries...

...Our investments in health and basic education, technology and innovation were also lackluster, landing us in 78th, 84th and 68th places respectively....

...our political parties concentrate on improving people's income through handouts rather than investing in education, research and bureaucratic reform ...

The private sector has already called for more state investment in research and development. At present, state spending on R&D stands at only 0.3% of GDP, with the ratio of researchers at a lowly 300 per one million population.

The industrial sector has contributed most to our annual economic output, amounting to about half, although it relies significantly on imports.

Meanwhile, the share of the agricultural sector has decreased significantly, to 8% over the past three decades, but it still employs around half of the total workforce, or 17 million.

While Thailand has great potential to supply the world with high-quality crops and fill the gaps in global food security, our rice pledging programme is biased toward subsidies, and away from improving yield and quality rice breeds crucial to sustain our competitiveness.

The service sector, which encompasses small entrepreneurs as well as large businesses such as in tourism and healthcare, accounts for 40% of the country's growth.

Clearly, we have a huge opportunity to grow by improving human resources to produce higher-value modern services.

[....Public investment has been only around 15% of the total budget during the past several years, compared to the 25% target...]

The government has grand plans to invest 2.27 trillion baht in mega-projects such as high-speed trains, deep-sea ports, expanding Suvarnabhumi airport and upgrading the telecommunications system. Parliament will soon debate if these megaprojects' budgets can be approved separately from the annual budget.

Certainly, this approach will compromise the need for proper scrutiny which is required for all projects under the regular annual budgetary framework...

..it is ... important that the public have a say in determining appropriate projects. The government must establish an effective monitoring system to ensure transparency and people's participation. After all, it is the taxpayers' money they are spending.

...And why not allocate a larger budget to R&D [also] ?

Parista Yuthamanop is Senior Economics Reporter, Bangkok Post

(Source: Bangkok Post, Opinion, COMMENTARY, Thailand must compete for a brighter future, 11/10/2012, Parista Yuthamanop, link


Investment and Competitiveness Vocabulary

competitiveness - how well a business can do compared to other firms (does it have lower price or higher quality?) การแข่งขัน
global - throughout the world ทั่วโลก
global competitiveness surveys

handouts - things given to people for free by the government สิ่งที่หยิบยื่นให้ฟรี แจกจ่าย

research and development (R&D) - the work of creating new products and services and of new ways to make them (See Wikipedia)
state spending on R&D
state investment in research and development

investment - taking your money and putting it into projects to make a profit or earn interest (buying stock shares, bonds, real estate)
public investment - investment by the government  (to provided much needed things that everyone needs such as roads and electricity generation, infrastructure)

state - government รัฐ
state investment - investment by the government

collective - involving all the members of a group โดยรวม ทั้งคณะ ที่เป็นจำนวนมาก ที่เป็นกลุ่มใหญ่
well-being - how good the lives of people are
collective well-being

improve - to make better ทำให้ดีขึ้น
capabilities - tasks or activities that someone is able to do
we seriously need to improve our economic capabilities

innovation - a new way of doing something นวัตกรรม
lackluster - not very good; of low quality and not impressive
technology and innovation were also lackluster

comment - remark, telling what you think or what your opinion is about an issue หมายเหตุ to express an opinion แสดงความคิดเห็น
business executives - a high level manager in a company (making plans and ensuring they executed successfully) ผู้บริหาร

concerned - worried about something มีความกังวล
concerned about

One comment I keep hearing from business executives, economists and government officials who are concerned about our collective well-being is that we seriously need to improve our economic capabilities.

our economic competitiveness is falling behind other developing countries
investments in health and basic education

They're worried because global competitiveness surveys have shown that our economic competitiveness is falling behind other developing countries......Our investments in health and basic education, technology and innovation were also lackluster, landing us in 78th, 84th and 68th places respectively....

political parties

income - money that people receive from work or some other source, used for household consumption and savings
concentrate
- to give most of your attention to one aim or activity เพ่งความสนใจไปยัง มุ่งไปที่
concentrate on improving people's income through handouts

bureaucratic - relating to government departments or officials เกี่ยวกับระบบราชการ
reform - improvements in the way government or an organization operates การแก้ไข การปฏิรูป
bureaucratic reform ...

...our political parties concentrate on improving people's income through handouts rather than investing in education, research and bureaucratic reform ...

sector - a part of the economy ภาคเศรษฐกิจของประเทศ (public sector = government, private sector = all businesses, household sector = families and consumers, banking sector,...) (See Wikipedia)
private sector

population -the group of people who lives in one country, area or place กลุ่มที่อาศัยอยู่ในบริเวณหนึ่ง
300 per one million population

annual - happening once a year ประจำปี
the industrial sector has contributed most to our annual economic output

significantly - in an important way อย่างสำคัญ
relies significantly on imports

The private sector has already called for more state investment in research and development. At present, state spending on R&D stands at only 0.3% of GDP, with the ratio of researchers at a lowly 300 per one million population. The industrial sector has contributed most to our annual economic output, amounting to about half, although it relies significantly on imports.

the share of the agricultural sector has decreased significantly

decades - periods of ten years เป็นสิบๆปี
over the past three decades

workforce - all the people in an area or country available for work, all the people who work for a company แรงงาน
employs around half of the total workforce

potential - the possibility of success ที่มีศักยภาพ ที่เป็นไปได้
great potential to supply the world with high-quality crops 

gap -
places where something is not covered and protected (no security)
fill gap -
take action to provide security (to protect something)

security - the activity of making safe or protecting from harm ความปลอดภัย
food security - protecting a country from food shortages (not having enough food)

global food
security
fill the gaps in global food security

biased - unfair; preferring one person, thing, or idea to another in a way that is unfair ลำเอียง
subsidies - when the government pays part of the cost of some activity to encourage it เงินช่วยเหลือจากรัฐ เงินช่วยเหลือ เงินสนับสนุน
our rice pledging programme is biased toward subsidies

yield - the amount produced per rai used in farming ให้ผลผลิตต่อไร่ an amount of something produced ผลผลิต
improving yield

breeds - particular types of plants and animals พันธุ์ สายพันธุ์
rice breeds

crucial - very important สำคัญยิ่ง
quality rice breeds crucial

sustain - to keep going; to continue (keep something happening, not stopping)  รักษาไว้
sustain our competitiveness

Meanwhile, the share of the agricultural sector has decreased significantly, to 8% over the past three decades, but it still employs around half of the total workforce, or 17 million. While Thailand has great potential to supply the world with high-quality crops and fill the gaps in global food security, our rice pledging programme is biased toward subsidies, and away from improving yield and quality rice breeds crucial to sustain our competitiveness.

entrepreneurs - business people เจ้าของกิจการ
small entrepreneurs
encompasses small entrepreneurs as well as large businesses

healthcare - the treatment and prevention of diseases and other medical problems

opportunity - a situation when it is possible to do something that you want to do (See glossary)
big opportunity 
huge opportunity
a huge opportunity to grow

resources - things such as money, workers and equipment needed for a person or organisation to function properly ทรัพยากร
human resources - workers at a company and their skills

services - บริการต่างๆ things produced in service industries, not a physical good that can be bought, a waitress and a cook in a restaurant provide a service, technically: a sequence of activities that does not result in ownership of the outcome (See Wikipedia on services and the goods and services continuum)

improving human resources to produce higher-value modern services.

The service sector, which encompasses small entrepreneurs as well as large businesses such as in tourism and healthcare, accounts for 40% of the country's growth. Clearly, we have a huge opportunity to grow by improving human resources to produce higher-value modern services.

grand - very big ใหญ่โต
grand plans - plans for very big and important projects in the future
grand plans to invest 2.27 trillion baht in mega-projects

port - a place where ships can stop (and unload the goods they carry)
deep-sea ports

upgrading - improving and making more modern and new
telecommunications - telephone and other forms of long-distance electronic communication; communications by radio waves using mobile phones, TV, radio, broadband internet.. (See Wikipedia)
upgrading
the telecommunications system

debate - a discussion or formal argument on an issue between people with different views (See Wikipedia)

budget - the amounts of money that an organisation has available to spend on different things during a period งบประมาณ (See Wikipedia)
annual budget
megaprojects' budgets can be approved separately from the annual budget

proper - actual or real จริง (พระราชพิธีพระราชทานเพลิงพระศพจริง)
scrutiny - to look at and check very carefully to look for problems การตรวจสอบอย่างละเอียดการใคร่ครวญอย่างละเอียด
proper scrutiny

approach - a particular way of doing something or thinking about something วิธีการทำให้ถึงจุดหมาย การจัดการกับปัญหา
compromise - to risk harming or losing something important
this approach will compromise the need for proper scrutiny

framework - a system of rules, ideas or beliefs that is used to plan or decide something ขอบข่ายงาน, โครงร่าง
the regular annual budgetary framework.

The government has grand plans to invest 2.27 trillion baht in mega-projects such as high-speed trains, deep-sea ports, expanding Suvarnabhumi airport and upgrading the telecommunications system. Parliament will soon debate if these megaprojects' budgets can be approved separately from the annual budget. Certainly, this approach will compromise the need for proper scrutiny which is required for all projects under the regular annual budgetary framework.

target - a goal; the amount you are planning to achieve เป้าหมาย
15% compared to the 25% target...

establish - to start a company or organization that will likely continue for a long time สถาปนา, ก่อตั้ง, จัดตั้ง

effective - works well, gets the job done; producing the result that was intended ได้ผลดี
monitoring - regularly checking an ongoing activity or process (to check for problems or collect information) จับตาดู
effective monitoring system

ensure - to make certain that something happens or is done รับรอง ให้ความมั่นใจ ให้การยืนยัน 
transparency - everything can be seen by the public, nothing hidden; an honest way of doing things that allows other people to know exactly what you are doing ความโปร่งใส
ensure transparency

The government must establish an effective monitoring system to ensure transparency

participation - being involved in an activity (rather than merely watching it happen)
people's participation

allocate - to officially give out an amount of or share of something แบ่งส่วน
allocate
a larger budget to R&D

....Public investment has been only around 15% of the total budget during the past several years, compared to the 25% target...it is ... important that the public have a say in determining appropriate projects. The government must establish an effective monitoring system to ensure transparency and people's participation. After all, it is the taxpayers' money they are spending....And why not allocate a larger budget to R&D?



About the author

columnist
Writer: Jon Fernquest
Position: Online Writer