IMF urges elderly fund
Thailand is being urged to set aside some of its ample foreign reserves for a fund to raise proceeds to finance aid packages for the elderly.
Markus H Rodlauer, deputy director of the IMF's Asia and Pacific department, met Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak on Friday and proposed that Thailand earmark US$214.7 billion (6.73 trillion baht) worth of foreign reserves, accounting for 10% of the country's GDP, to establish a fund that generates income to assist the elderly.
Mr Rodlauer said hefty foreign reserves strengthen the baht, which directly affects Thai export competitiveness.
Mr Somkid said the Thai government does not have a position on the proposal, adding that Thais are quite conservative about ideas to allocate foreign reserves for investment in any vehicle.
The government needs to take time while the Bank of Thailand studies how to best use the foreign reserves, he said. Mr Somkid also called on the IMF to work with the Thai central bank to upgrade Thai financial systems, similar to the World Bank assisting the Finance Ministry and Thai agencies in improving ease of doing business.
He said the Finance Ministry has already been assigned to work out measures to help the elderly, as the number is expected to increase significantly over the next several years.
The state planning agency forecast for Thailand's 12th national economic and social development plan (2017-21) that the population would increase to 66.1 million from 65.5 million, with the proportion of elderly rising to 19.8% from 17.1% now.
The proportion of young people and the workforce are projected to drop to 16.6% and 64.1% of the total population during the period from 17.5% and 65.3%, respectively.
The planning unit predicted that during the 13th plan (2022-26), the population would increase slightly to 66.4 million in 2023, then fall to 65.1 million by 2026.
The number of elderly people is expected to make up 20.6% of the total population in 2022, rising to 30.2% in 2026, while the workforce is expected to account for 63.1% of the population in 2022, falling to 56.3% in 2026.
Mr Somkid said the government hopes to attract the elderly to support the Thai economy through the tourism sector.
He said the National Tourism Policy Committee is scheduled to meet on Monday to consider measures to attract and promote the elderly to work for the sector.
Mr Somkid said a strong tourism sector will play a vital part in employing workers who are affected by disruptive technology.