Thailand aims for 31% jump in per capita income by 2026

Thailand aims for 31% jump in per capita income by 2026

New five-year economic plan focuses on competitiveness but high household debt a challenge

Customers queue outside a currency exchange in Bangkok in July. (Bloomberg Photo)
Customers queue outside a currency exchange in Bangkok in July. (Bloomberg Photo)

Thailand aims to lift the average per capita income by 31% in five years by tailoring economic and social policies to generate more wealth, even as it battles near-record household debt and a high cost of living.

The government wants to lift per capita income to $9,300 in the fiscal year starting Oct 1, 2026 from $7,097 in 2021, according to the National Economic and Social Development Council.

Measures to boost productivity and competitiveness in manufacturing and service sectors are part of the 13th national economic and social development plan that take effect from Oct 1, said Danucha Pichayanan, the NESDC secretary-general. 

While the country has almost quadrupled per capita income since the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s, the hit from the pandemic has caused household debt balloon to almost 90% of gross domestic product.

The country is also facing sticky inflation and a slump in the baht that is threatening an uneven economic recovery, the slowest in Southeast Asia.

“The five-year plan is not carved in stone,” Mr Danucha said. “The situation now is so hard to predict. The plan can be changed if there are unexpected events.”

The national plan will rely more on the local economy to ensure sustainable growth amid fast-changing environment including geopolitical risks, climate changes as well as digital transformation, the NESCD chief said. The country also has to contend with a dwindling labour force as almost 20% of its population is 60 years or older.

Other key points from the plan include:

  • A target to lower greenhouse gas emission by no less than 20%.
  • To reduce inequality in income and other social aspects between people at the top and at the bottom of the economy.
  • To boost the nation’s capability to cope with changes and risks such as climate change, pandemic and cyber threat.

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