B3.8bn allotted to bolster SME revenue
The government has budgeted 3.81 billion baht for a pilot programme to build up small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in 10 provinces, aiming to double the portion of GDP generated by SMEs to 10% by 2023.
Mr Kobsak says the goal is to help SMEs in secondary provinces. Chanat Katanyu
Kalasin has been chosen as the first province to take part in the "SME to a Rising Star" initiative.
Kobsak Pootrakool, the Prime Minister's Office minister, said the government has an ambitious policy of upgrading the country's economy from the grass roots level, with SMEs specifically targeted for improvement.
SMEs in secondary provinces were chosen for this project because of the myriad economic problems in such locales.
For Kalasin, many local food products need a promotional push and access to distribution and marketing channels, including giant freshwater prawn, nam tok mai sithong mangoes and fish sausages.
Mr Kobsak said the government has a policy of supporting and promoting local SMEs, in a line with its flagship Thailand 4.0 policy.
The government aims to help the SMEs access digital technology to enhance their marketing efforts, including e-commerce platforms.
The government will connect to other 25 state agencies and the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion (Osmep) to brainstorm further SME support measures.
"Once SMEs can approach and apply a digital platform to their businesses, not only can they improve their competitiveness, but also reduce social disparity," he said.
The government also wants to support local SMEs in the tourism sector because of their strong annual growth and position as one of the country's key economic drivers, said Mr Kobsak.
Mae Hong Son, for example, is one of 55 secondary provinces with many tourists every year and it needs more domestic flights to serve the tourism in the area.
He said tourism-related SMEs could generate more income than those in other sectors.
Osmep director-general Suwanchai Lohawattanakul expects the total number of SMEs to grow to 331,315 this year, generating more than 90 billion baht for the Thai economy.
Osmep projects 55,642 new SMEs to be registered during the first quarter thanks to four government projects to support SME productivity.
In 2018, the office plans to launch a number of programmes, including a SME 4.0 project.
Last year, the cabinet approved 10 stimulus measures, including a new lending scheme worth 200 billion baht to strengthen SMEs.
Moreover, the government aims to help SMEs expand into Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam.