Sipa becomes Depa as it takes on broader role

Sipa becomes Depa as it takes on broader role

Agency widens scope to digital economy

Dinsow Tebo, a robot waitress, serves snacks at a fair held by King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang to promote use of robotics in the service sector. PHOTO BY PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD
Dinsow Tebo, a robot waitress, serves snacks at a fair held by King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang to promote use of robotics in the service sector. PHOTO BY PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD

The Software Industry Promotion Agency (Sipa) says it will propose a new organisational structure to the Digital Economy (DE) and Society minister by next month, which will enable it play a broader role to assist the development of the digital economy.

Sipa will be renamed the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa) by March 2017, said Supachai Jongsiri, a Sipa board director.

The National Legislative Assembly approved the Digital Economy Act, which comprises the establishment of Depa, the Digital Economy Fund and the National Digital Economy and Society committee. The act is waiting for royal endorsement.

"We expect the Digital Economy Act to come into effect by January, and Sipa will then be renamed Depa," Mr Supachai said.

Sipa currently has 116 staff. But Depa will require at least 200 employees to handle its broader role -- from promoting the use of digital technology in society to supporting the development of the digital economy and upgrading digital skills of the workforce.

Mr Supachai said the new organisational structure needs approval from the DE minister.

The minister will have to temporarily appoint four new directors and a new president of Depa.

Chatchai Khunpitiluck, vice-president and acting president of Sipa, said all current staff will immediately become temporary officers after the DE minister green-lights the new structure of Depa.

All staff will have their performances re-evaluated before being granted permanent employment.

Sipa is also preparing its procurement and procedures document to deal with the new organisational and management structure, Mr Chatchai said.

Mr Supachai said Sipa received 270 million baht for fiscal 2017 and the budget will be transferred to Depa.

"We also have a draft budget for 2018 at 1.08 billion baht," he said.

Sipa's existing projects relating to the digital economy will continue as planned, especially the smart city projects in Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen.

Sipa plans to spend 50 million baht on digital entrepreneur projects involving 4,000 communities in 10 major provinces to provide training courses and encourage the use of enterprise software planning programmes to manage their accounting and inventory systems.

The agency will also promote the use of digital technology in the agriculture and logistics sectors to improve their productivity and lower costs.

Sipa also aims to promote the development of digital-related activities in order to attract foreign investment, further develop locally made goods and agricultural products and promote tourism via the use of digital tools.

Promoting the use of ICT among small and medium-sized enterprises to reduce costs and improve their operational efficiency will be another area of focus.

Meetham Naranong, vice-president of Sipa, said the agency will encourage the greater use of local software and content to promote local IT industries.

Thailand's digital content industry was valued at 12.7 billion baht in 2015, up by 12.4% from 2014.

The animation sector accounted for 3.85 billion baht and the gaming sector represented 8.89, rising by 9.9% and 13.5%, respectively, from the previous year.

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