Unity the 'key' to fix economy
Somkid: Goodwill can solve downturn
The government and the opposition should talk to each other more to help the country's economy weather the global economic problems, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said on Sunday.
Addressing a meeting of nationwide chambers of commerce in Lampang, Mr Somkid said the economy is going through a transition period which will proceed in a smooth fashion only with unity from all sides and consistent top-level policies.
The political challenge was reflected in the stalemate in recent House meetings, but "should not pose a major problem as it could be resolved with goodwill", he said.
What the government and the opposition should do is talk to each other more to iron out their differences, which would be a catalyst in helping overcome global economic hurdles, according to Mr Somkid.
"What's most important for the economy right now is cooperation from the political and economic sectors as well as a push from the younger generations," he said.
The country, with its distinct features that define "Thainess", is rising up through developments in technology and innovations and because of improved state regulations, he claimed.
The deputy premier also insisted the service sector, including community-based tourism, was essential for the economy as businesses dealing with logistics also create jobs during a current transition marked by digital disruption.
The economy has borne the brunt of slowing global trade and relies heavily on revenue from exports which accounts for between 60-70% of GDP.
Mr Somkid said the government has had experience battling economic problems over many years, which makes it resilient to friction caused by new challenges. "The economy may be slowing but it's still growing and [the growth] is not in the negative territory," he said.
The minister touted the attention the grassroots economy is receiving through guaranteed crop prices and stimulus measures to spur consumer spending. HE also noted that the tourism sector is edging up, and has maintained the momentum of the overall economic performance in the last quarter.
Mr Somkid said the government has at its disposal about 100 billion baht of leftover budget from the previous fiscal year which ended in September, and the plan is to accelerate disbursement of the budget until the end of the year.
Kalin Sarain, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber has proposed a white paper to the government which contains advice on achieving a quick economic recovery. The paper would ensure economic growth of at least 3% next year.
The nationwide chambers of commerce want the government to buy crops from farmers and process them to increase their value.
The chambers also asked the government to promote community-based tourism to boost income distribution and manage water sources to mitigate the effects of droughts and floods.
They stressed that the Clean Air Act needs to be passed into law as haze pollution costs affected provinces in the North more than 163 billion baht in damage per year, according to Mr Kalin.
He added the baht needs to weaken for the sake of exports and tourism.
Thanavath Phonvichai, vice-president of research at the University Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the nationwide chambers of commerce have predicted the economy will expand by 3.1% next year with a recovery expected to begin in the first quarter.
Exports this year are likely to report negative growth of 2.1% before bouncing back to 1.8% growth next year. Inflation next year is predicted to rise to 1% from 0.8% this year, he said.