PM unveils new forum on economy
Business sector invited to give input on recovery
The government will hold a public forum to hear what the business sector has to say about how to address economic problems, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Tuesday.
Speaking after the weekly cabinet meeting, Gen Prayut said officials from state agencies will be sent to gather feedback which will be used to inform policy.
The forum will be held at a public venue, not on the premises of a government agency, Gen Prayut said.
Asked whether he would be taking part in the forum, Gen Prayut said he would only deliver a speech at the opening. However he will be kept up-to-date with information from officials in attendance.
Gen Prayut also said the traditional Thai New Year -- Songkran -- marks a new beginning for moves to propel the country forward under a government economic rehabilitation plan which hopes to boost the tourism sector, exports and investment.
He said the government is trying to ensure better welfare, particularly for vulnerable groups and senior citizens and it has spent more than 800 billion baht to take care of them annually.
He said the government has also allocated hundreds of billions of baht to help farmers who grow the country's six main cash crops -- rice, cassava, oil palm, rubber plants, sugar cane and maize.
Gen Prayut said he instructed government agencies to be careful with their budget spending and work together to get through both domestic and external problems and strive for a secure and sustainable future.
"This is my principle. I told cabinet ministers to be extremely careful. Even though the country's exports have improved, revenue from other sources is declining.''
He further said the Bank of Thailand's Monetary Policy Committee has informed him that the country's financial standing remains solid, though spending may have to be slashed.
The government nevertheless intends to introduce measures to help operators of medium-sized and large businesses as they are the main sources of employment, the prime minister said.
"I have been concerned about people's spending. Today, their income has been reduced but the prices of consumer goods, as well as energy prices, have risen, making it hard for them to make ends meet each month.
"Their daily spending accounts for almost 50% of their income or even more because they don't earn much. Therefore, it also depends on their spending behaviour. They have to change.
"Since you don't have much money, you have to choose what suits you best when you eat or buy something.
"This doesn't mean the government is not interested in social inequality or is not trying to raise their income ... But many things are starting to improve. The government is not being complacent. Today, I gave an instruction that measures be rolled out, but we will have to find additional sources of income. You have to understand this,'' he said.
Gen Prayut said the government is considering further easing entry rules to attract more tourists.
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said the ministry and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will propose cancelling the Test & Go entry scheme and Thailand Pass registration from May 1 at a meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Friday.