Business people happy with new Thai cabinet

Business people happy with new Thai cabinet

Although the Prayuth Cabinet has been filled and controlled by soldiers, many business leaders still believe the troops can run the country successfully, as many strategic portfolios, especially economic ministries, are managed by capable and experienced experts.

The ministers in charge of the economy are suitable for their positions and I have confidence since the National Council for Peace and Order has a policy to tackle corruption in their management philosophy," Vallop Vitanakorn, vice chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, said over the weekend.

While some ministers were officers, there were experienced and capable people who would work with them in a supporting role, he said.

The priority for the new ministers should be to stimulate the economy by concentrating on public investment, which has stalled over the past few years, along with accelerating disbursement of the 2015 government budget that kicks off next month.

"Planning for the Bt2.4 trillion investment in infrastructure projects must be tangible," he said.

The ministers should come up with measures to strengthen the county's competitiveness and policies to support small and medium-sized enterprises ahead of the opening of the ASEAN Economic Community next year, he said.

Kosit Panpiemras, executive chairman of Bangkok Bank, said the cabinet ministers were experts who have the ability to drive the economy forward. They were also reliable people who could build relationships with foreign entities.

However, the challenge for the ministers is to ensure that infrastructure projects, which are a huge investment for the country, would be transparent. They should make all processes for this investment, especially the payment system, clear and transparent to prevent criticism from the public.

Economic enhancement does not need to be done from the short term by promoting consumer spending. The government should consider models that match the fundamentals of the Thai economy without piling more debt on households like populist policies did before.

If the government can keep gross domestic product cruising at 4 per cent per year, this will raise per capita income to US$10,000 per year and within 10 years, the country might not need to be in such a hurry to launch measures to boost the economy, he said.

Prasert Taedullayasatit, president of the Thai Condominium Association and managing director of Pruksa Real Estate Plc, said the names of those who will head economic ministries under Prime Minister Prayuth will lift the confidence of corporations because all of them have long experience in economic and business endeavours, especially MR Pridiyathorn Devakula.

The first priority of the economic team is to increase the confidence of investors both domestic and foreign in tourism, investment and exports, then reform the country's economy for sustainable growth.

Roadmaps for tax reform

"We have strongly supported the new government by meeting with our members and also joining with the Thai Chamber of Commerce to write three economic roadmaps for tax reform, urban master plan reform and infrastructure investment. This will support the new government to drive the country's economy to sustainable growth," he said.

Piyaman Tejapaibul, president of the Tourism Council, said new Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul was one of the most successful people in the country.

Besides being part of top management at Toshiba Thailand Company, she stands out in educational work and is also a key person who has been pushing the anti-corruption campaign. She had also been worked with many public and private organisations including the Thai Chamber of Commerce.

"Kobkarn's strength is coordination. She can work with many people and organisations," she said.

"The tourism industry can't go it alone amid tough competition. It needs to work with many other organisations. Although Kobkarn is keen on manufacturing without direct experience in the service industry, she could coordinate with all stakeholders on both private and government sides.

"As tourism and sports minister, she is the one who will coordinate with other bodies and will set policies into action," she said.

Kobkarn is claimed to be the first woman and true outsider taking the helm of the ministry, which has been dominated and controlled by one political party since its inception in 2003.

Representatives of the Tourism Authority of Thailand - the key marketing body for the industry - said they were surprised at the appointment of Kobkarn, as she is from manufacturing.

While she may need to be taught and trained in a service business like tourism, officials at TAT were looking optimistically at the newcomer.

The Tourism Council of Thailand urged the new minister to address the major weak points of the industry such as the quality of human resources, depth of logistics and infrastructure, and profusion of illegal hotels. The council called the government to beef up the industry to make it healthier, which could mean having quality tourists and also more expensive destinations. Thailand is now one of cheapest countries in the region.

Thailand is expected to welcome 25 million international guests this year, generating revenue of Bt1.2 trillion, while domestic travel should bring in Bt700 billion.

The council said the country could see up to 40 million visitors in 2018 or in three years if all parties can mitigate all risk factors including politics. The arrival of 40 million visitors would raise tourism's share of GDP to about 15 per cent.

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