From the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to Sustainable Development Goals February 2, 2018


A very good evening to all fellow citizens.

His Majesty the King has graciously ordered a winter festival under the name “Un I Rak, Klai Kwam Noun” for the public. The event meant to demonstrate people’s loyalty and honor previous monarchs of the Chakri Dynasty. His Majesty’s graciousness had touched the heart of the people.

The Kingdom stands strong today because of the dedication of our previous Kings, even though the Kingdom had gone through many difficult times and battles in the past.

Therefore, this event will be organized as a history-themed festival, portraying the history of Thailand, our values and our way of life from past to present. Also, there will be other interesting activities throughout 3 zones.

Zone 1, Dusit Palace Royal Ground, features exhibitions and cultural and traditional performances. The place will be set up in a beautiful Thai architectural design with botanical gardens and fountains.

Zone 2, Sua Pa Plaza, features shops and stores offering a wide array of Royal shops such as 904 Shop, Phu Fa Shop, Chitralada Shop, Friends in Need of “PA” Shop, Royal Project Foundation Shop, and Military Wives’ Shop. Also, there will be fork dance shows from around Thailand.

Zone 3 features restaurants and shops inspired by the Royal’s initiatives. There will be demonstrations of local arts and cultures, along with food stores offering traditional Thai delicacies.

Vendors and organizers will be wearing traditional costumes and visitors are encouraged to wear traditional Thai cloths worn during the reign of King Rama V or cloths made of Thai fabrics or polite clothing. Entry is free of charge.

Proceeds generated (no cost deduction) during the event will go to people around the country who are facing hardships or effected by disasters as His Majesty the King’s wishes. And, on this auspicious occasion, greeting cards with hand-drawn illustrations of His Majesty the King will be available for people to purchase during the event. One set contains 4 greeting cards.

His Majesty the King had Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, as the Representative of His Majesty the King, presided over the Prince Mahidol Award 2017 Presentation Ceremony at Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall. The Ceremony took place on Wednesday, January 31st.

The Award is given to outstanding individuals around the world whose works have benefited humanity especially in the field of medicine and public health. This year, winners were shortlisted and selected among 45 potential candidates from 27 countries.

1. The winner in the field of medicine is the Human Genome Project (HGP), a program that was aimed to decode human genetic codes and establish a complete mapping of human genes in order to enhance the understanding of our cells and organ functions. This is a big step in the medical world.

2. Meanwhile, the winner in public health is recognized for developing the latest vaccine against Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and the efforts to make millions of children worldwide receive the vaccine including children in developing countries. This project will benefit millions of children worldwide. Thailand, as well, must be able to produce such vaccine for all babies.

In the field of research and development for humanity, King Rama IX was the first monarch in the world whose Royal invention was patented. This invention is known as Chaipattana aerator, a low speed surface aerator for use in the treatment of polluted water.

To honor his internationally-recognition, the government will organize the “Thailand Inventors’ Day 2018” event from February 2nd to 8th at Event Hall 98 – 99, Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centre (BITEC).

This year’s event will be held under the theme “Research and Innovation Market,” presenting new and ready-to-use inventions and innovations as well as the country’s progress made in this field. The goal is to make these inventions and innovations work outside the labs. Prior to this week’s cabinet meeting, I met with the young inventors who won awards from South Korea.

I also tasted fresh bird’s chili coffee, a product listed in Thai invention and innovation list. After drinking it, I feel warm. The coffee improves metabolism and reduces fat and cholesterol in our body.

This coffee has no cholesterol and has only 60 kilocalories. Sucralose, an artificial sweetener, is used instead of sugar. Also, it contains white kidney beans, cactuses, and garcinia atroviridis to give the taste of Thai. Please try it.

I was told that the product is now exported to 10 countries and available in vending machine in Japan. Apart from this product, there are mobile detecting machine that scans formalin levels in food, a banana leaf folding machine, and an automatically adjustable cane etc.

I would like to see more developments on Thai products. Also, I would like to see more supports and promotions of Thai patented products. This is a foundation for the mobilization of Thai research, inventions, and innovations, in accordance with the Thailand 4.0 policy.

My fellow citizens, to achieve sustainable development, we must realize and understand our core values and history. At the same time, we must understand changes occurring around the world. This will give us “immunity”, according to the Royal Guidance.

This is also part of “Thai Niyom” program which I’ve mentioned quiet frequently because it is give a strong foundation for the country’s future. If we do not understand our roots, it would be like building a house on an unstable ground. The house might collapse easily.

We all should be proud that on January 23rd, a US News agency publication announced world’s best countries, and Thailand was ranked 27th among 80 countries worldwide.

Thailand was ranked first in best countries to start a business list. Its cultural heritage was voted 8th best and its cultural influence was 19th best. During these past years, the Government has been promoting an understanding of Thai history and culture to children, teens, and adults as well as developing learning centers in all areas.

For instance, we upgraded the Bangkok National Museum. The QR Code technology has been introduced to display information and pictures of ancient ruins and artifacts. This application can be used on smartphones and tablets. Our museum is now up to international standard. The move aims to promote a sense of pride and true understanding of our roots to the children. This is in line with His Majesty the King’s guidance. We, therefore, shall preserve the cultural heritage of the country.
I also want to stress the importance of Thai Niyom which is vital to the strengthening of the Thai society which will directly reflect on the economy. There have been two major obstacles when it comes to addressing poverty in Thailand.

The first one is the imbalance between social and economic development. The second one is the lack of understanding about poverty, poor people, their whereabouts, and their needs, hence unsustainable solutions. Past measures were meant to fit all. Therefore, it cannot address different needs of each individual, leading to ineffective government spending. To make matters worse, populist policies were introduced.

As for the Thai Niyom Yang Yuen project, I want to stress that the government doesn’t benefit from this initiative, but only the public will. It is about administering the nation which must be in line with the development strategies of King Rama IX and His Majesty the King Rama “Understanding, Acquaintance, and Development”.

The Government had worked on the country’s structure during the past 3 years from policy level to implementation. We would like to raise people’s awareness of the policies and works of the National Reform Steering Committee and Committee on National Reform, National Strategy, and Reconciliation.

For example, national reform, social contract, citizens’ duties, democracy, election, the sufficiency economy principle, poverty eradication, and drug prevention etc.
However, I think that what we lack is a mechanism to put forth policies and projects in municipal areas. Community leaders, civil servants, and ministry officials must understand overall picture of policies, projects, spending plans, and, of course, people’s needs.

They must also understand others’ works to create connectivity among concerned parties so that, in the end, people will also understand and cooperate with other concern parties in form of “Pracharat” at the local level.

We have to make sure that our spending plans – fixed expenses, policy budgets, and mid-year budgets – cater to particular needs of all areas, in order to improve the effectiveness of the government work. People will be the ones who benefit.

People must lend a helping hand by forming a group to survey their communities’ needs. Needs must be clarified, otherwise, problems will remain unsolved. People need to work with local officers and define their needs for growth. I want to see both sides working together.

The government issues policies whereas local officers and people implement them. This fosters cooperation at all levels. Issues that need collaborative efforts include water management, agriculture, tourism, services, commercial activities, and freelance jobs. We must make sure that help will reach families so that they have enough to spend in sustainable fashion. It all starts with self-sufficiency.

As for illicit drug, authorities have made several arrests in urban areas in recent years. This can be interpreted in two ways. First, there are drug in Thailand. And second, drugs are smuggled into Thailand. With that said, we must decrease the demand. Some drug users never concerned about their health. They do it for fun, making our society deteriorated. Solutions must be implemented at all levels. Responsible agencies should strictly enforce the law and foster cooperation with other countries.
As for those low-income earners and indebted, I have good news for you. It’s about the debt clinic project managed by Sukhumvit Asset Management Co. Ltd. (SAM), a state enterprise operating under the supervision of the Bank of Thailand. It also works with 16 commercial banks and overseen by the Thai Bankers Association to help individuals who are unable to settle debts (NPL) with commercial banks to be able to solve their problem. This would allow NPL accounts a second chance. This will allow them to improve their credits and financial transactions so they can avoid being blacklisted, charged, or bankrupted.

The project began on June 1 last year for individual with salary income such as civil servants, state enterprise officials, and private sector employees.
The project received over 30,000 applications and now manages almost 130 million baht in restructured debt, an average of 230,000 baht per person, spread across 3 banks.

Since Jan 1, 2018, this project has now expanded its target base to cover non-salaried individuals such as merchants, freelancers, and farmers that are indebted to one of the 16 participating banks. The project aims to resolve the issue of household debt caused by a lack of understanding in debt management as well as a lack of financial discipline.

In addition to easing financial burdens by restructuring debt into manageable interest rates and timelines, the project also provides financial consulting to participants. Those who are interested in taking part can refer to the information displayed at the bottom of the screen.

My fellow Thai citizens, the country’s economic performance this past December was reported to have expanded due mostly to a healthy export and tourism sector.
The value of goods exported in December grew by 9.3 percent compared to the same period last year and grew in all major trading partner markets and in almost all categories.

Factors contributing to the growth are
1. Demand for Thai products such as rice, para rubber products, telecommunications equipment, electronic parts, automobiles, and auto parts.
2. The rise in global oil prices, making the price of oil-based products rise, such petroleum and petrochemical products. The price of rubber is also tied to oil and therefore will improve as well.
3. Industries expanding their production capabilities for export, such as automobiles, rubber, and petrochemicals.

The tourism sector remains healthy and continues to generate revenue. The number of tourists in December increased by 15.5 percent compared to the same period last year, mostly being tourists from China and Malaysia.

However, domestic consumption has slowed down compared to the period when the government had in place end-of-year shopping incentives. The government will pay close attention to factors that will support people’s purchasing power in the future, as we are still facing income distribution problem. However, we are working on the issue of raising the minimum wage to increase more income for people.

For businesses that will be affected by this, the government will gather measures to alleviate increased burdens such as tax deductions for expenses paid out for salaries. Employers will receive new rate at 1.15 times, which covers around 3 percent or deduction of 9-10 baht.

Furthermore, the government has introduced additional measures to assist affected SMEs to be able to offset the increase in wages so that they would be able to lower their costs and increase their efficiency. The government will find additional measures to assist small businesses that are not qualify for tax deduction measures including those in agricultural sector.

Private sector investment remains stable compared to the previous month. While purchases of machinery and other investments have increased, purchases of commercial vehicles has slightly declined. However, the private sector’s confidence index for the next 3 months has improved, as businesses foresee an increase in purchase orders which would increase business profits and investments.

In the eyes of foreign businesses, Thailand remains an investment-worthy country. A survey of confidence of Japanese businesses has continued to increase. The survey expects investment activity from Japan to increase by 34 percent and exports to increase by 37 percent. Japanese businesses and investors were reported to be satisfied with the Government’s policies of investing in infrastructure, maintaining national peace and order, resolving customs issues, improving the ease of doing businesses, and mobilizing the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) policy.

Government agencies and state enterprises now need to review their wastewater treatment systems and integrate their efforts. As we are moving forward with new industries, we must not forget to manage wastewater effectively to preserve our the environment. Another important factor for economic growth is government spending which currently experiences delays in some sectors. The government is doing its best to accelerate the disbursement of its budget for various projects. Some have not been able to move forward due to unfinished EIA or public hearing.

We must resolve these issues if we wish to inject money into the economy. Otherwise, there is no need in rushing, if we cannot move forward. If necessary, we might have to make some adjustment to the plan. The government has always placed great importance on effective use of state budget.

In addition, Thailand’s economy is expected to outperform expectations, while revenue collected in the first 2 months of the 2018 fiscal budget (October-November, 2017) exceeded expectations by 12 billion baht or 5.1 percent.

We expect revenue from tax and state operations to increase by about 50 billion baht, making us able to allocate an additional 150 billion baht to our budget. This will be used in 2 areas; 1. offsetting reserves that were spent to maintain fiscal responsibility, and 2. to fund projects that are ready to commence in 2018 with important agendas such as
1. Developing the grassroots economy
2. Local development, which includes fund access, community enterprises and local tourism, and
3. Reforming the whole agricultural production system.

I would like everyone to understand that these additional budget allocations are not reckless policies without fiscal responsibility. In the past 4 years, although the government has operated at a deficit, it has strictly adhered to fiscal prudence, as seen in the decrease in public debt as a percentage of GDP which decreased from 47.18 percent in 2014 to 41.7 in November last year.

International standards define a manageable level to be no more than 60 percent. Overall, this deficit was around 3.3 percent of GDP, comparing to 3.4 percent during 2009-13. However, we managed to do many more things.

In addition, these additional allocations have carefully been planned in a systematic manner to develop the grassroots economy to reduce social disparities to move forward to a digital economy as well as reducing redundancies and executing reform policies and the national strategic plan.

I want everyone to therefore understand that I am doing my best to lay a solid foundation of the country to increase its competitiveness to increase more revenue through long term reform agendas and policies created by participation from all sides.

It is a challenge and there is no shortcut in laying a new path for the country, as it involves reforming laws and restructuring organizations. The government is very committed to its mission and has received support from many sides.

I wish I could quickly show you the tangible outcome but these are long-term policies that make way for various changes so that the country can move forward in a stable manner.

I don’t ask for praise, but for understanding and for people to carry on with these agendas for the benefit of our country and our people in the next generation.
Finally, I would like to invite you to follow the government’s communication channels, as there have been improvements and additions made to various government channels, such as,
1. A monthly forum on issues of interest
2. Meet the press on every Thursday
3. The daily “Moving Thailand Forward” (except on Fridays) after the 6:00pm national anthem. The content of these shows will be modified to meet the needs of viewers with the help of all channels. My sincere appreciation to all concern parties.
4. The Facebook page @ThaiGovSpokesman of the Spokesperson to the Prime Minister’s Office has modified its content format to suit a 4.0, while the government website is a one-way communication channel but its contents are credible and can be used as references.

The Facebook page will be a 2-way communication channel where questions and suggestions can be submitted by viewers and responded to via short video clips by the Prime Minister, ministers, or other concerned agency heads with an emphasis on fast and accessible information.

I want this page to be an example of a social media channel that is a benefit to the public, so that we can achieve our 4.0 and Thainess agendas with grace and tradition.
Thank you, and I wish everyone a happy weekend. Sawasdee Krub.