The Democrat Party inaugurated yesterday a new independent institute that will spend the next three years developing a national development "blueprint".
Former Asean secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan gives an address during the unveiling yesterday of the Democrat Party’s Future Innovative Thailand Institute, set up to develop ‘a blueprint for Thailand’s future development’. Mr Surin has been chosen as the institute’s chairman. APICHART JINAKUL
The Future Innovative Thailand Institute, headed by former Asean secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan, aims to set national development targets and propose ways to achieve them by 2020.
Mr Surin said at the inauguration ceremony yesterday that Thai people must admit the country has arrived at a critical juncture and can no longer progress by simply following past practices.
He said the new institute, which will be "free from political influence", has a clear scope and qualified personnel to analyse the country's challenges and prepare solutions to them.
Looking ahead, Thailand will face problems arising from an ageing population and political uncertainties, Mr Surin said. Climate change will also stymie the country's development options.
Mr Surin said the institute will initially look into three areas of development - economics, education and governance.
It will seek public input in developing the country's "blueprint" and come up with a strategy to implement it.
Mr Surin, a former Democrat MP and foreign minister, said Malaysia had started a similar process 20 years ago.
The blueprint strategy had helped it increase per capita income to about US$9,000 (268,110 baht). Kuala Lumpur has set a target to increase that figure to US$10,000 by 2020.
Thailand's average per capita income is just US$4,000.
Speaking at the same event yesterday, Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said that despite its relatively high spending on education development each year, Thailand still ranks far behind its neighbours, such as Singapore and Malaysia, which spend less on education.
"We spend 24.3% of our national budget on education each year but we rank 49th on the global list for education development. Singapore ranks number four with only 11.5% of its budget spent on education," he said.
The Democrat leader also said that income inequality in Thailand has remained a persistent problem that must be addressed. He said poverty eradication should be a priority.
The institute will hold a brainstorming camp in March, drawing people from both Thailand and abroad to discuss development plans. Mr Abhisit said it would take about three years to map the national development blueprint.
About the author
- Writer: Thanida Tansubhapol