Digital Economy Fund expedience mandated
The Digital Economy and Society Ministry and related agencies have been ordered to speed up approving applications for the Digital Economy and Society Development Fund (Digital Economy Fund), set up a couple of years ago to upgrade Thailand's telecom infrastructure.
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said on Monday the approval process should take only 1-2 months.
The Digital Economy Fund was established in 2017 as required by the Act on Digital Development for Economy and Society enacted in January 2017.
The Digital Development Act is a consolidation of the three bills -- the Digital Economy and Society Committee Bill, the Digital Economy and Society Development Fund Bill and the Promotion of Digital Economy and Society Bill.
The Digital Economy Fund is to upgrade Thailand's telecom infrastructure using seed money from the government, funding from the government's annual budget, with 15% of proceeds available from frequency allocation by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) and 15% from the NBTC's annual income.
In fiscal 2019, 2.6 billion baht was allocated to the fund, with an additional 2 billion in fiscal 2020.
No money has been allocated to any applications because of a delay in the announcement of the regulations for the fund's use.
Mr Somkid also ordered a subcommittee to consider applications be established.
Kobsak Pootrakool, deputy secretary-general to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha for political affairs, said there were 130 applications worth a combined 12 billion baht proposed to the fund since May this year.
The ministry originally intended to approve project applications for fiscal 2019 by next March or April, but Mr Somkid ordered approvals to be completed over the next 1-2 months.
In fiscal 2019 the fund plans to allocate money for digital infrastructure, government technology improvement and human resource development, while fiscal 2020 targets educational technology, health technology, agri-tech, government tech, human resource tech, and fintech.