Cabinet approves funding for new research institute

Thailand’s cabinet approved funding last week for a new research institute under the supervision of the National Economic and Social Development Board to study the complex challenges and trends facing the Kingdom and propose evidence-based policies and responses.

 

The Institute of Public Policy and Development will conduct research on the future trends that are expected to arise and test the mettle of the Kingdom in coming years and decades. Some of those trends could threaten the country’s progress and development and even its well-being.

“The new institute approved yesterday will take care of conducting R&D on future challenges, enabling the government and public to prepare for them,” said Thosaporn Sirisamphand, secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB).

The NESDB is the government’s national economic planning agency. Founded in 1972, it has formulated a series of five-year plans that have helped guide the transformation of Thailand from an agricultural economy to an industrial powerhouse to its current evolution into a digitally developed society.

“One of [institute’s] major tasks is to conduct R&D that helps in tackling income disparity, and it should function as a policy lab in advising the government,” Thosaporn said, adding that the institute is expected to become operational next month.

Other issues its experts and researchers will be looking at include the Kingdom’s aging society, rapid urbanization, and human resource development to help realize the Thailand 4.0 economy, which focuses on technology and innovation.

The cabinet set initial funding for the Institute of Public Policy and Development at $30 million for the period 2019-2022.

The guidelines for the institute allow it to recruit and hire experts from the private sector. Thosaporn said that that would allow a new generation of thought leaders and idea generators to have an impact on the country’s direction and future.

NESDB staff would also be allowed to transfer to the Institute of Public Policy and Development for periods of two to three years to work on specific research projects, and to “refresh their capabilities and upgrade their potential,” Thosaporn said.

The government also proposed and has committed to hosting a think tank that will coordinate sustainable development research and policy development between the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the United Nations.

The Thai government is hoping the ASEAN Center for Sustainable Development Studies and Dialogue will be established in 2019, the year Thailand assumes the ASEAN chair.