Thai economist urges government to tackle inequality, improve education

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A prominent Thai economist says there are several issues the country must address in order to protect the economy in the long run. Dr Somjai Phagaphasvivat calls on the government to develop human resources, improve the level of Thai education and tackle the serious problem of inequalities. According to a Thai report from PBS World, he claims the Covid-19 pandemic has brought to light the glaring inequalities in Thai society, adding that household debt has been rising for years and needs to be corrected.

“What has been a problem for a very long time, and has been widely exposed by Covid-19, is the inequality gap. The government needs to be serious about this. If we don’t fix this, household debt will increase even more. It is the highest in ASEAN and the second highest in Asia-Pacific.

Somjai believes the worst of the pandemic is over and the world has turned a corner on Covid-19. However, he warns that the Thai government must have enough vaccines ready for next year. He says more stimulus will also be needed, as well as rehabilitation for Thais who are suffering the longest. Thai PBS World reports that Somjai believes the government has the tools to turn the economy around, but needs to be cautious about balancing spending and revenue.

The economist says that as the Covid-19 situation eases around the world, tourism to Thailand is expected to improve in 2022, but a full recovery will take time. In the meantime, he suggests focusing on domestic tourism, which has the potential to grow 80% or 90% with the right stimulus. He acknowledges that last year’s government relief packages ensured that the situation did not get worse than it already was.

“We have to admit that these aid plans have helped improve the GDP by no less than 1 to 2%, but that’s not all. The relief is part, the stimulus is more. There are things that led to spending so I think it helped. If the government had not done this, the economy last year would have been even worse than it was.

THE SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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