State agencies plan for rural recovery
The government has ordered all state agencies and related bureaus to map out their own economic recovery plans to boost local economies - deemed the main avenue to repair the devastated economy from the bottom up.
The state expects to roll out a recovery plan in June, or whenever the lockdown is lifted, which will be submitted for cabinet approval.
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said the government launched the 400-billion-baht coronavirus relief package in part to help local people and businesses in what the government is calling “grassroots economic restoration”.
“Thailand will be on the front lines launching an economic recovery plan to help small and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs] and community enterprises,” he said.
The government believes the rural economy can be a new engine to boost purchasing power in the country.
The underlying principle is to promote purchasing power and financial health in the bottom rungs of society to strengthen the overall economy.
“The tourism and export sectors are weak and have continued to slow down,” said Mr Somkid.
“Recovery will take time because both sectors need domestic support as well as demand from foreign markets.”
He said the agricultural sector should improve and develop high value-added products.
The government is calling on the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank of Thailand and the Government Savings Bank to support farmers and rural entrepreneurs.
“State agencies must help farmers and people in provinces access financing and market channels and business operators should cooperate with government projects,” said Mr Somkid.
He said the government departments and state agencies should expand their data systems to serve projects in the future.
Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit said his ministry will propose a 10-billion-baht economic recovery plan to provide aid to local farmers, SMEs and community enterprises.
The 10-billion-baht plan is also meant to address the effects of the drought on top of the economic turmoil brought about by the pandemic.
The plan aims to increase efficiency of marketing and business management under the Industrial Promotion Department and suspend debt repayment, provide fee exemptions and construct water reservoirs for farms.
“Through the initiative, the Industry Ministry will provide help for sugar cane farmers with 340 million baht covering 5,000 farmers holding 20,000 rai, and create new jobs in the old reservoir project covering 20,000 rai for 500 workers,” he said.
Supant Mongkolsuthree, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, said the group will roll out an online marketplace to support local business in line with the local economy scheme.