From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals – October 28, 2016
Good evening, dear Thai citizens.
On behalf of the people of the Kingdom of Thailand, I would like to convey my deep appreciation to the many leaders of other countries, as well as international organisations, such as the United Nations, for sending their messages of condolence on the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great, and for expressing your sympathies and paying tribute by signing books of condolences, observing minutes of silence, and lowering national flags.
These gestures by other nations show their understanding and deep sympathy for the Thai people on the passing of a most beloved Monarch and thus a great loss to the Thai nation. Their gestures also illustrate their admiration for His Majesty’s commitment and contributions to our nation and the Thai people for over 70 years. His Majesty was the world’s longest-reigning living monarch. Other nations have also recognized His Majesty’s work principles and Sufficiency Economy Philosophy, which greatly benefits humanity.
I would also like to thank members of the public, every nationality, and every religion for commemorating the King’s graciousness and benevolence and for expressing your devotion and loyalty to His Majesty the Late King. Thank you for coming together to sing the Royal Anthem at Sanam Luang and thank you for offering assistance to others.
Although His Majesty the King has passed, His teachings and His philosophies will live on. This is especially so for the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy, which His Majesty had graciously bestowed to the Thai people 40 years ago as a guideline for development and building stronger communities, and for leading secure lives as good citizens, grounded in morality, ethics, honesty and unity, so that we can work together to engender development and progress for our nation.
I also wish to extend my appreciation to the Morality Promotion Center under the Ministry of Culture, for launching a book, “Terd Khao Pok Kade,” which contains the King’s remarks and teachings about the 5 moral principles namely: honesty, discipline, responsibility, having a social service mind, and self-sufficiency. With this, The Thai people will be able to learn more from His Majesty’s teachings. It is also a way of showing our loyalty to the King, by making sure that such virtuous aspects continue in Thai society.
The virtue of “sufficiency” means to live in a sufficient way or maintain a middle path. One should make decisions based on rationality and knowledge. We should have moderation and learn to be satisfied with what we have, while not violating others in our pursuit of own goals, and not being careless as we enhance our own capacities to be ready for changes.
The government has thus incorporated the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy into the 20-year National Strategy, as well as the 12th NESDB Social and Economic Development Plan (2017-2021), with focus on turning theory into practice for sustainable development in all levels. For this, the government has set up the Sustainable Development Commission, which is chaired by the Prime Minister. The commission works under the Pracharat policy, which is to get all agencies and sectors involved, including the Federation of Thai Industries, the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the Chulabhorn Research Institute, the Thailand Environment Institute, the Good Governance for Social Development and the Environment Institute, and the Thailand Development Research Institute.
Another key factor to success is reforming the management of state budget, meaning that government funds must be distributed based on strategy. To elaborate, every ministry and agency must brainstorm ideas and formulate plans, projects, and activities that are beneficial for other related agencies. There will be short, medium, and long term plans that actually coincide with the 20-year National Strategy and the NESDB’s social and economic development plans.
Let’s take human resource development in the next 20 years for example. The matter takes into account the well-being and welfare of the people. We will take care of the poor and the elderly, and thus will have urgent measures, and a short term or 1-year plan that is relevant with the developments expected to take place in the next 20 years.
The plan is to turn the uniqueness of each local area into something that fits modern society and will lead to improved living standards, higher added values, and higher incomes. The plan ultimately seeks to help drive the country into the Thailand 4.0 era, in accordance with the government’s vision to create stability, prosperity, and sustainability, with the country progressing as a robust and acknowledged democracy.
The Sufficiency Economy Philosophy is our guideline to sustainable development. An important element is human resource development and building an inner or fundamental strength within our societies. With this, we will be able to connect with the global economy effectively and ready to take on its many challenges. The journey starts with building self-reliance ability and then coming together as groups and networks. Then, we need to increase knowledge opportunities for the people and create an awareness of the situation. People should then understand the concept of sustainable development so that future growth can be realized.
Therefore, the traits of a 4.0 Thai Person under the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy is simply to 1) fill when empty, 2) stop when there’s enough, and 3) share when have more than enough. This practice will then turn the country into Thailand 4.0. The Sufficiency Economy Philosophy builds on stability and allows everyone to grow without leaving anybody behind. We will move forward together.
The concept of Thailand 4.0 is a main reform agenda that seeks to move the country past 3 pitfalls including 1) the medium income trap, 2) the inequality trap, and 3) the imbalance trap. This initiative will be driven under the model of stability, prosperity, and sustainability through 3 new engines – 1) building growth from within, 2) enhancing the country’s competitive edge, and 3) building sustainability by maintain balance in the economy, society, and the environment, what we can call, green development.
Building stability at the grassroots sector is a good example. The Cabinet on Tuesday resolved to endorse a budget to develop 74,000 villages nationwide under the Pracharat approach. Each village will be granted 250,000 baht. This project is an outgrowth of two previous projects namely 1) 5 million baht per Tambon project and 2) 200,000 baht per village project.
According to the latest survey by the National Statistical Office, more than 90% of the respondents were highly satisfied with the project because they truly benefited from them and were allowed to voice their input on how the projects could be carried out. The new projects will receive funds from the 2017 fiscal budget. The implementation period is 90 days. Each village will receive 250,000 baht.
In order to make this project worthwhile and yield maximum benefits, I have issued additional instructions for the budget not be spent on matters or equipment that don’t generate income. The money will thus be used for community projects such as on crop drying fields, rice mills, and farming equipment.
The funds must not be fragmentally spent with no returns. The money should be used for the majority of the people in the community, not individuals. What’s important is that members of the community must partake in the project from the very beginning, helping to formulate the implementation plan and managing the operation in the form of cooperatives. If the public understands and cooperates, the government is willing to continue to support these projects in all provinces.
For over 2 years, this government has incorporated the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy into its policies in order to achieve sustainable development for the country, while also adhering to the King’s Philosophy towards work as stated by His Majesty on July 18, 1974.
In essence, His Majesty stated that one must start with the people’s most basic needs, such as public health and self-care, in order to reduce medical costs and promote wellness. When the people are healthy, they will be able to carry on with other beneficial work for society.
After that, focus on basic public services and the necessities, such as roads and water sources for agriculture and consumption. This includes providing access to academic knowledge and technological proficiency, and focusing on making the most benefit out of local assets for the people.
Examples of the government’s social policies include:1. Healthcare planning and development policies such as (1) Providing 1 family practitioner for every 10,000 people(2) Providing access to emergency services at all hospitals(3) Establishing the 1669 emergency medical hotline(4) Expanding on the use of traditional Thai medicines for first aid and for promoting innovation among local Thai practices.
2. Welfare and social equality policies include: (1) Providing housing for 2.7 million households: “Din Dang Community,” “Pathum Model,” “Lad Prao Waterfront Community”(2) Increasing stipends for children, the disabled and the elderly(3) Establishing the One Stop Service centers with the hotline 1111 and Damrongdhama centers with the hotline 1567.
Education reform policies include: (1) Dual-track vocational curriculums (2) Distance learning through DLTV satellite (3) Establishing learning centers, such as the centers for Sufficiency Economy Philosophy and modern farming practices, centers for enhancing agricultural efficiency, and community learning centers on information and communication technology Economic policies include
1. Integrated water management policies, including flood, drought, and wastewater management, and reservoirs. These projects aim to increase water reserves and provide effective water irrigation which will benefit lower areas as well as the central regions of the country. These projects are being undertaken to ensure sustainable water management.
2. Reclaiming forest land, forest restoration, allocating land for farming, community forests, large-scale community farms, encouraging a variety of planting activities, smart farming methods, organic and sustainable farming ,which supports the use of organic fertilizers that are not only environmentally friendly, but also add value to crops.
3. Research, development and innovation promotion, such as innovation cities like “Foodnopolis”, agricultural processing, and supporting research projects that relate to the country’s needs in order to yield results in the domestic market and thereby reduce dependence on imports.
4. Investing in infrastructure for land, water, air transport and telecommunications and the internet in order to enhance connectivity and mobility to all regions.
5. Establishing the Pracharat Rak Samakee Company, state-run social enterprises, agricultural cooperatives, community markets, elevating OTOP products and small businesses to the global market. In this area, we’ve received support from many private companies and I would like to thank all for your support.
6. Establishing special economic zones, the Eastern Economic Corridor, supporting 10 target industries according to the Thailand 4.0 model. All of this will create a new value chain that will increase income for the country and enable further development.7. Registering patents and copyrights.
All of these undertakings have been the product of this administration’s work in progress for 2 years under the King’s Philosophies. Even though the Thai economy hasn’t grown as much as it should have, due to external factors as well as internal restructuring, positive signs in various sectors have surfaced, such as,
1. Agricultural output and prices have improved in certain products compared to last year. September’s agricultural output index rose by 4 percent from the same period last year, after being in the red for several months. This has been due to increased harvesting of corn ad cassava. The overall agricultural pricing index for September grew by 8 percent compared to the same period last year.
2. The industrial output index for August has increased by 3.1 percent compared to the same period last year due to an expansion in the food and electrical appliances industry.
3. Our international trade value in September also expanded by 3.4 percent, marking the second consecutive month of expansion. Exports to Thailand’s major trade partners such as the European Union, China, the United States and Japan have continued to increase.
4. In August, the country was visited by 2.87 million tourists, an 11 percent increase compared to the same period last year, with the majority of tourists coming from China, Malaysia, Japan and Laos.
In addition, the government has expedited budget disbursements of state projects to facilitate cash/monetary flow. In the 2016 fiscal year, budget disbursements increased by 7.9 percent compared to the same period last year, consisting of a 5.1 percent growth in recurring projects, while disbursements for investment programs grew by 34.4 percent. The country’s debt-to-GDP ratio is currently at 42.6 percent, well below the country’s healthy threshold of under 60 percent.
In addition, the government has placed great importance on improving the ease of doing business. The Word Bank has ranked Thailand 46 out of 190 on its Ease of Doing Business Report for 2017. This is a 3 point improvement from last year’s report. This was due to improvements in business application procedures such as payment systems, access to credit programs and insolvency management procedures.
The country’s medium and long term economic outlook as forecasted by the National Economic and Social Development Board, the Bank of Thailand, and the Ministry of Finance indicate to an overall growth, for 2016 and 2017, of approximately 3 percent. If there had been no structural changes like we have seen, we could have expected the country’s economy to grow at a slower pace in the next 5 to 10 years, given the current volatility in the global economy, which also shows no sign of returning to stability in the near future.
Therefore, this government has been trying to promote sustainable economic growth all along. This doesn’t mean simply raising the GDP but rather achieving growth across many different sectors in every region of the country. We will not focus on one particular area more than others, and we must ensure that government stability is maintained. This means ensuring stability and normalcy in our political and security situation as well.
As for the various projects that we have already begun and those which are on the verge of being implemented, these include: economic development plans such as the Thailand 4.0 initiative, the development of special economic zones, East Economic Corridor (EEC) development, the restructuring of the agricultural production cycles, the improvement of water resources and soil quality, and the development of plant species and animal conservation.
We will also be focusing on promoting innovation to add value to our local agricultural and industrial goods, the rehabilitation of our tourist destinations to, and the promotion of workforce development and education in order to meet the demands of the private sector and the future development plans of the country.
All of the aforementioned projects will be undertaken under His Majesty the King’s “people centered” development strategy. This is to prevent conflicts from arising in local areas and to include local residents in the process which, in turn, will benefit them and improve their well-being.
In addition to this, the government has a project for the private sector to participate with the public sector (PPP) in investing in several infrastructure projects. This will lower overhead costs on these essential construction sites. It is an investment in our future and will also stand as testimony to our ability to compete on the international stage in terms of investment opportunities. It will also serve to facilitate the needs, and reduce manufacturing costs for both the public and private sectors.
However, we still do not earn enough to invest in very large projects. As we cannot collect full tax revenues, we will be borrowing part of the funds from the private sector. This “public debt” will soon pay itself off, as it earns revenue for the country over the years. We will also maintain this to a level below 60% of our GDP.
If in the future, our economy improves and we are able to use a more effective taxation system, the government will be able to invest more and will no longer need to take out these loans. In turn, the public will receive better services and welfare, and the quality of life will improve. In particular, we will be able to focus more on public health and education. In this way, as the government earns more and is able to invest more, the people, especially low income earners, will benefit more as well. I sincerely empathize with you all.
If everyone in Thailand cooperates with one another and works together, without disputing all the time or just looking out for self interests, we will have a prosperous and sustained growth, with economic, monetary, and fiscal stability.
As for the connection between the King’s Philosophy and the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the government has had several successes. We have raised awareness and recognition of this on the international stage at the G77, G20 and ACD meetings. We have proven that the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy is a viable method by which we can achieve our sustainable development goals. For example:
1. The Hub Kapong Learning Center for addressing the lack of potable water, as well as the lack of arable land – the Center achieves this through simple technology that is easily affordable. Through this, poverty was tackled, and we were able to create a stronger community and achieve the 1st goal of the SDGs, which is to “end poverty in all its forms in all areas.”
2. The Food Bank has been set up with a Lunch Fund that will be in service indefinitely. Here, students are also invited to spend time learning about growing their own produce and farming small livestock. In turn, the schools will purchase these products from the students and use them to prepare school lunches. With their additional revenue the students can then reinvest that money into their family, and their education. This is all in line with the SDG’s 2nd goal which is “ending hunger, and having constant access to food to elevate nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.”
3. The Phra Dabod School has organized 1 year training courses which graduates can then begin careers from. These courses are taught in line with other necessary life skills required in those fields including knowledge, discipline, perseverance and responsibility. This is in line with the 4th SDG goal which is “provide comprehensive and quality education for all as well as opportunities for lifelong learning.”
4. The Chaipattana Aerator is a way in which we can increase the amount of oxygen in in water while decreasing odors, preventing rot, and creating a habitat for aquatic wildlife. This is in accordance with the 6th SDG goal, which is to “provide hygienic and sustainable water management”.
5. The Pracharat Rak Samakee Company Ltd. has been focusing on social enterprise through the Pracharat model. This is a non-profit undertaking to promote entrepreneurship within local communities. This meets the 10th SDg goals, which is to “reduce inequality within and between countries”.
These were but some of many possible examples. I have seen that the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy can be quite universal in this regard. It is similar to a vaccine that can prevent a disease, as it serves to address carelessness and uncertainty in much the same way. If left unchecked, these things can have a negative impact on our economy, society and environment just like a disease can on the body. Thailand is honoured to be able to share this Philosophy and show that it is very applicable in sustainable development endeavours throughout the world. We should all work towards international development through cooperation, without leaving anyone behind.
Finally, as to the matter of the decline of the price of rice, in particular jasmine rice, which has seen a very high decline in the Eastern provinces; this is in part due to the recent mill purchases, the high level of humidity from the recent floods affecting the quality of the rice, and competition driving down the price on the international market. In light of this, the government will be undertaking urgent measures to help these farmers affected as soon as possible.
I hope that by no later than next week, we will be able to conduct an urgent meeting to address this matter and present it to the cabinet. In this way, we will be able to take action as soon as we can. I would like to thank the farmers for your hard work, patience and sacrifices. The government is well aware of what you all go through and we will do what we can to help.
Another issue is the declining prices of longans. The Ministry of Interior in partnership with the Pracharat Rak Samakee Company Ltd. have used the Krung Kasem Market near Government House to showcase longans from 3 different southern provinces including Yala, Patani, and Narathiwat. These will be available for purchase from October 26th to November 2nd. Also available at this time will be processed longan, longan juice, and longan ice cream as well as the usual food vendors and OTOP products.
I’d like to invite anyone interested to please come and visit the market.
Thank you. Sawasdee Krub