Somkid says 5G infrastructure a priority
Thailand must adopt 5G technology next year to prevent the country from lagging behind Vietnam, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak warned on Monday after a meeting with state enterprises.
"If Thailand wants to see exponential growth, like China, it is vital for the nation to embrace the digital era," he said, adding that the government has made digital development one of its priorities.
The commercial sector, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), needs to adopt digital technology to improve their efficiency but many are yet to begin the process, he said.
Adopting 5G in Thailand remains in limbo with the three mobile operators -- Advanced Info Service (AIS), Total Access Communication (DTAC) and True Move -- lobbying the government to delay the final payments on their bid fees for the 900-megahertz spectrum auction.
Without the postponement, they claim that they will not have enough capital to invest in 5G, which is expected to cost them in excess of 200 billion baht each.
In another development, Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong threw support behind a proposal to double the lending ceiling for pico-finance operators to 100,000 baht per borrower to combat loan sharks.
He has assigned the Fiscal Policy Office to consider trimming pico- financing interest rates to 28% per annum.
Pico-finance was initiated by the ministry to help low-income earners access lending. They are permitted to extend loans for general purposes but are limited to loans of 50,000 baht per borrower at a maximum interest rate of 36% a year.
Moreover, they are required to have minimum registered capital of 5 million baht and confine their operations to a particular province.
A source at the Finance Ministry said that most borrowers from underground lenders owe more than 50,000 baht each, so the increased ceiling amount for pico-finance operators will discourage people from using loan sharks with higher charges.