PPRP calls for 'bottom-up' approach towards growth
The government has voiced its support for social enterprises to empower people at the bottom of the social ladder to improve their quality of life.
Kobsak Pootrakool, the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) spokesman, proposed that Thailand take a bottom-up approach to support local people due to the country's uneven development.
"Thailand's economy over the course of 50 years belies income inequality. As an economist, I confess the country went down the wrong path. The rich got richer while the rest were left behind. We should adopt a new paradigm by helping local people realise their true potential," said Mr Kobsak at the 9th Social Business Day forum held in Bangkok.
He said the government has issued laws and policies for social enterprises in Thailand. Among these is the Community Banking Act.
"Professor Yunus is our inspiration. We have just introduced a new law to help local people. Banking is not only for the rich, but it can also be for the poor. It can support community businesses in all villages," he said.
He was referring to Nobel Peace Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, a pioneer in social business and founder of Grameen Bank, which provides loans to destitute people in Bangladesh, who inaugurated the event, in which almost 1,500 delegates from 58 countries took part.
Mr Kobsak said the government has already passed the Social Enterprises Act into law to further strengthen the people's movement.
"It will provide a firm foundation for all social business activities with tax incentives," he said.
The Social Enterprise Office and funds are also set up to "incubate and nurture new social entrepreneurs", he added.
Mr Kobsak noted that social enterprises will, in turn, allow people to rely on themselves rather than the state.
"I admit that the government has limited resources. It is impossible for the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security to take care of more than 40 million people under its mandate," he said.
The annual conference focused on the theme of: "Making money is happiness, making other people happy is supreme happiness".
The private sector can play a role in advocating for social enterprises.
Teerapon Tanomsakyut, the executive assistant to the CEO of Charoen Pokphand Group, stressed that businesses can address "social pain points" and strengthen local communities.
"We have joined hands with Yunus Thailand to help local people," he said.
Agriculture and education are among the first areas to be prioritised.
"We are starting out, but we will focus on our strengths," he said.