NESDB: Thailand will be developed country in 20 years

The key goal of Thailand’s 20-year national strategy is to make the Kingdom a developed country with higher incomes and lower social and wealth inequality, in addition to promoting innovation and advanced technologies, the head of the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) said last week.

To achieve that ambitious goal, the economy will need to grow between an average of four and five percent annually during that period, said Porametee Vimolsiri, secretary-general of the NESDB.

The NESDB reports directly to the prime minister and has been composing Thailand’s five-year development plans since 1961. The plans adhere to the goals of alleviating poverty and income disparities, enhancing national competitiveness, promoting social capital development, and promoting sustainable development.

The goal of Thailand’s 20-year national strategy, known as Thailand 4.0, is to elevate innovation, creativity, research and development, and advanced and green technologies as the drivers of the Thai economy, as opposed to relying too heavily on manufacturing for foreign multinationals.

“According to the target, if the economy grows five percent in a period of 20 to 30 years, we will be upgraded to the group of high-income countries. Our country and Indonesia will rise to become high-income countries like Singapore,” Porametee said.

The challenge, however, isn’t only to achieve that level of growth, but to ensure that growth is spread more widely throughout society. Reducing social and financial inequality will benefit the country’s economy in that consumption and spending will increase, and more people will have middle-class incomes.

Thailand has been described by some economists as one of the more unequal societies in Asia in terms of income distribution. Disparities and perceived inequalities contributed to social and political unrestin recent years, but that has now receded under the current administration.

Porametee downplayed fears that Thailand is losing its competitiveness, despite more modest growth rates in recent years compared with the galloping rates during the boom times of earlier decades.

“Thailand is not losing its advantages or lagging behind her regional peers,” Porametee said. “However, several countries are chasing us. So, we must speed up, particularly in relation to enhancing our skills in digital technology and languages,’’ he said.

“More technology will be needed in the 21st Century and will link societies. Learning must continue throughout your lifetime and subjects to be studied must focus more on creative thinking and multi skills,” he added.

He stressed that education reform would be crucial to achieving national goals, especially in raising knowledge and skills relating to digital technologies and foreign languages.