The government is being urged to pay more serious attention to speeding up the production sector's restructuring to create new jobs and boost economic growth.
Danucha Pichayanan, secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC), said the government desperately needs to transform the production sector to more high-technology industry that can draw greater investment and revitalise Thailand's economic growth over the long term.
"Thailand's annual investment-to-GDP ratio should stay at around 30%, which is sufficient to create new jobs and improve economic growth," said Mr Danucha.
Back in 1995, Thailand's annual investment averaged around 41% of GDP, 32% of which belonged to the private sector and 9% to the public sector, according to the NESDC.
In 1997, Thailand experienced an economic crisis and annual investment was 34-35%, with 25-26% from the private sector and 9% from the public sector.
From 1998 until the present, Thailand's investment-to-GDP ratio dropped to an average of 25% a year, 16-18% of which belonged to the private sector and 6-9% to the public sector, he said.
According to Mr Danucha, the annual investment should cover infrastructure projects, manufacturing and R&D.
The government aims to raise annual investment in R&D to 2% of GDP in the 13th economic and social development plan set for 2023-27.
The country's overall spending on R&D in 2021 is estimated to reach 270 billion baht, making up 1.5% of GDP, led mainly by the private sector, which is expected to account for 70% of spending on R&D.
In 2020, overall R&D spending was 166 billion baht or 1.09% of GDP. The private sector contributed 71%, with the remainder coming from the government sector.
He said R&D spending for 2022 should focus largely on creating innovation for commercial purposes, strengthening competitiveness in the production and service sectors, narrowing income disparity and upgrading technology.
As Thailand faces many challenges in terms of social problems, poverty, income disparity and competitiveness, the government sees it as imperative that R&D be used to tackle such problems, said Mr Danucha.
Significant policies to address these challenges should be continued despite any political changes to keep development on schedule, he said.
Mr Danucha said the government's policy discontinuity from 1997 to 2021, when Thailand had nine prime ministers, resulted in a delay of the country's economic restructuring.