Digital economy sought

17 กันยายน 2557, 23:00 น.

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To achieve its ambitious goal of moving the country toward a digital economy within its one-year term, the government will set up a National Digital Economy Committee chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha himself.

Deputy prime minister MR Pridiyathorn Devakula said digital technology would be used to help create a pool of information resources across sectors regarding business and economic policies that could improve the economy's sustainability.

The government hopes to implement policies that allow the country to maximise the benefits from digital technology across industries such as software, hardware, agriculture and digital-based services.

Speaking at a meeting with senior officials to inform them of government policy, MR Pridiyathorn said a law was needed to accommodate a digital economy, and the ICT Ministry is expected to deliver a draft in two months.

He said digital economy policies must be implemented during the government's one-year term.

"The prime minister agreed that by chairing the committee, he can ensure speedy moves are made that develop an agenda," said MR Pridiyathorn.

He said the committee would work closely with the private sector and was ready to provide support to significant development projects such as Board of Investment privileges and venture capital funds.

MR Pridiyathorn said Thai industry was the major contributor to the economy but lacked digital technology to improve efficiency.

"In fact, the previous government tried to address this weakness in technology but failed to implement policies to force the private sector to catch up with the digital era," he said.

At the same meeting, MR Pridiyathorn said the planned new stimulus would be announced within three months. The government plans to hike farm-sector incomes, as farmers have suffered from cheap crop prices this month.

The regime will ask the state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives to reschedule payments of the public debt from the previous government's rice pledging scheme from five years to 30, requesting a grace period for the first 10 years.

MR Pridiyathorn warned the government would have little room to develop or invest in the country's development if it had to repay 700 billion baht of public debt from the rice pledging scheme within five years.

Agricultural zoning is also expected to be finished in one year to allow reform of the farming sector, aimed at stabilising farm prices.

Finance Minister Sommai Phasee said the remaining 15-billion-baht budget from the Thai Khem Khaeng scheme of the Abhisit Vejjajiva government would be transferred for use in investing in small construction projects such as hospitals, schools and road improvement nationwide to create jobs as soon as possible.

The government will implement tax restructuring through a property tax and inheritance tax to ensure a fairer society, he said.

On infrastructure, the government is expected to create a master plan on dual-track rail development, while a water logistics scheme will be developed to cut logistics costs.