B20bn slated for digital plan
Infrastructure, legal development targeted
The government is set to invest 20 billion baht in infrastructure projects in fiscal 2018 as part of its ambitious digital development plan.
Digital Economy and Society (DE) Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj said that in fiscal 2018 the government is committed to implementing an intensive programme for digital development, targeting both vital infrastructure development and improving laws.
"Combined spending from various state agencies should amount to 20 billion baht this fiscal year, with the DE Ministry to invest 6 billion," he said.
Mr Pichet said the largest project is big data system development and integration, whereby each ministry is required to set up their own system, with the DE Ministry investing in a big data centre and cloud service.
Total investment has not yet been decided upon.
The ministry expects 2-3 billion baht to be spent this year by CAT Telecom on an international broadband network and submarine cables.
Mr Pichet said the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission also plans to invest 3 billion baht this year to finish construction of the broadband network to cover all villages nationwide, enabling communities to sell their local products online.
Digital is one of six core areas the government set as its national development strategy this year, aiming to help raise the country's competitiveness and make it a developed nation in 20 years.
Other areas are farming, services, tourism, entrepreneurship and logistics.
The six strategies have already been approved by a committee tasked with developing a national strategy to strengthen the country's competitiveness, chaired by Sathit Limpongphan.
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak early this month called a meeting of related state agencies such as TOT Plc, CAT Telecom Plc, the DE Ministry, the Finance Ministry, the Science and Technology Ministry and the Board of Investment to speed up the working processes.
He also ordered TOT to accelerate the development of the nationwide internet broadband system.
Mr Somkid has tasked related agencies with linking internet broadband to villages, schools and public health centres in a bid to lift the quality of life and education in remote areas.
The Commerce Ministry was also instructed to assist community shops to make use of internet broadband to sell their products online, while the DE Ministry was ordered to speed up the 5-billion-baht submarine cable scheme.
The World Economic Forum's global competitiveness report for 2017-18 released last September ranked Thailand 32nd out of 137 countries in competitiveness, up two notches, thanks to improvements in infrastructure, the macroeconomic environment, health and education development, market efficiency, financial market development and technological readiness.
Thailand ranked third among nine Asean countries after Singapore (third) and Malaysia (23rd). Indonesia ranked 36th, Brunei 46th, Vietnam 55th, the Philippines 56th, Cambodia 94th and Laos 98th.