Novel R&D ministry 80% ready

Novel R&D ministry 80% ready

Operations expected to begin in June

Udom: Awaiting 10 related laws
Udom: Awaiting 10 related laws

A new ministry overseeing R&D and innovation is expected to open this June.

Yesterday, Udom Kachintorn, the deputy education minister, reported on the progress of the new ministry to the cabinet. The Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Ministry is 80% complete and set to commence immediately once the law governing it goes into effect.

Mr Udom said the National Legislative Assembly endorsed 10 related laws for the new ministry on March 25. The government expects those 10 laws to be published in the Royal Gazette this June. If the laws are published in May, the government may need to appoint an acting minister to helm the new ministry.

Mr Udom said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha created an ad hoc committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Prajin Juntong to work out details for the new ministry, ensuring readiness for when a new government is installed.

The government allocated 130 billion baht to the new ministry for fiscal 2020. The budget for R&D will be separate from each fiscal budget. A separate fund will be later established, he said.

The Council on Research and Innovation Policy chaired by the premier will be also established to supervise R&D policy.

The National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Office recently reported Thailand's R&D spending reached 1% of GDP in 2017, worth 155 billion baht, mainly driven by big corporations aspiring to produce high value-added products, with the automotive, food and petroleum sectors leading the pack.

The country aims to have R&D spending reach 1.5% of GDP by 2021 and 2% of GDP or 340 billion baht by 2026 through a research and innovation fund, skilled research development and shifting to frontier research on food and nutrition, aerospace, agriculture and the circular economy.

Thailand's R&D spending was expected to reach 1% in 2018, but it met the target a year early.

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