Finance minister lays out plans for 2021
The government will accelerate investment next year in the areas of digital, wellness and the green economy, Finance Minister Arkom Termpittayapaisith says.
Speaking at the Bangkok Post International Forum 2020 "Beyond the Pandemic: A Decade of Challenges from 2021'' at Centara Grand at CentralWorld, Mr Arkom said the ministry has invested in a wellness elderly complex for senior citizens on land owned by the Finance Ministry.
To spur digitisation, the ministry is considering requiring any government project that borrows foreign funds to include a technology transfer component. Mr Arkom also wants to simplify customs procedures through digitisation to provide a single window for customs transactions allowing goods and services to flow into the country more easily, in line with the "10 for 10" ease of doing business recommendations from the United States.
He says Thailand has been able to maintain a strong debt to GDP ratio during the pandemic of 49.4%, under the 60% limit which the country has set for itself. The ministry expects the country to grow by 3.5-4.5% next year.
"Coronavirus has taken a toll on the global economy and daily life," he said. "Disruptions to travel have harmed cross-border business transactions and tourism, so for an open economy like Thailand's, the impact has been especially significant."
Of the 1 trillion baht stimulus, only 300 billion baht was spent in 2020, he says, with the rest earmarked for 2021.
Despite the negative effects of Covid-19, Thailand is recognised for the potential of its economic recovery, due to strong cooperation between the government, private and public sectors.
The government has put an emphasis on the recovery process in technology and the digital arena, the green economy and climate change, as well as wellness. One of the effects of Covid-19 has been that many people have gained more digital and technological literacy which will be further explored by the speaker from Huawei. In the future, technology transfer should be considered at the international level. It is fundamental to not only buy technology, but also to develop it.
Mr Arkom said the most successful stimulus programmes were the 5,000 baht direct cash payouts during the lockdown, the Travel Together domestic tourism subsidies, and the copay 50/50 cost-of-living subsidies for low-income people.
"These programmes have had great success and we will extend them for a second phase, starting Jan 1," Mr Arkom said.