Release policies, parties told
The business community is urging political parties to spell out their economic policies ahead of the general election, asking for the chance to plan for challenges post-poll.
Kalin Sarasin, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC), said it is about time parties brought forward economic proposals for the public to examine.
He said these plans should outline economic issues and how each party plans to address them to boost the economy. they should also offer views about the economic situation including how they will strengthen national capabilities and narrow income disparity, he said.
"Parties should say clearly if the economy is in recovery or in decline and what are the main causes and factors [behind the current situation]," Mr Kalin said after the conclusion of the 36th seminar of the national Chambers of Commerce in Bangkok. "And they shouldn't forget to include how to develop capacity to meet market demand and reduce income gaps.
"If every party comes up with a clear policy, it will help the business community see better where the economy is going during the political transition [to a democratically-elected government]."
All political parties are currently banned from giving details of their policies. Gen Prayut will chair a meeting at the Army Club on Friday to discuss the possible lifting of political censorship rules.
Mr Kalin said the election, tentatively scheduled to take place on Feb 24 next year, is expected to raise investors' confidence and lure more foreign investors to the country.
Citing reports from the Thai business council, he said investors in China and Japan are looking to expand investments overseas and he hopes Thailand will be among their top choices. According to the TCC's forecast, economic growth in 2019 is projected at no less than 4% while this year's figure is predicted at 4-4.5%. Mr Kalin said the official figure for 2018 is expected to be released later this month.
The TCC chairman said the TCC has also put together a white paper which was submitted to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha who joined the closing of the meeting.
He expressed confidence the TCC's proposal, if implemented, would help Thailand move closer to achieving its goal of sustainable wealth and economic progress. No details were given.
Meanwhile, in his keynote speech delivered at the seminar, Gen Prayut said trade and commerce would play a key role in national reforms by helping the country escape the middle-income trap in 20 years.
He urged the sector to embrace technologies and use them to drive the economy, noting the government had done its part by streamlining regulations. He also allayed concerns that the government's Thailand 4.0 initiative could bring about disruption, saying any changes would be gradual.
Gen Prayut also used the forum to defend controversial projects including the state-financed welfare cards and 20-year strategic plan.
He insisted the welfare cards, which were issued to registered low-income earners, were not designed to woo votes in the run-up to the elections. He said about 14.7 million people earned less than 100,000 baht per year.
Gen Prayut also denied the government's 20-year strategic plan was intended to help the regime prolong its stay in power.
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