October 5, 2023
BANGKOK – “Today I don’t want you to see me as a prime minister, but as a businessman who has been appointed to drive Thailand forward,” Srettha said in a speech at the “Thailand Economic Outlook 2024: Change the Future Today” event in Bangkok on Wednesday.
The event was hosted by the Thai-language business daily, Krungthep Turakij, at Waldorf Astoria Hotel to mark its 36th anniversary.
“I’m a salesman. I have to sell Thailand’s great products and build investors’ confidence. It’s my duty and mission as the No 1 salesman of the country,” he said.
In his keynote address on “The Big Change: Empowering Thailand’s Economy”, Srettha said that like other business operators, he too believes Thailand is like an old car that moves slower than other countries.
He also said that there was no reason to talk about the last government, as it too had faced difficulties and limitations.
Instead, he said, all sectors should join hands in attracting foreign investment and that his government would help businesses negotiate deals with different countries. He also called on state enterprises to become more proactive and hoped the Stock Exchange of Thailand would participate in roadshows and send out signals that Thailand is suitable for investment.
He added that both the public and private sectors should work together as a team to build confidence among investors and that his government would enhance Thai industries and drive the country to the next chapter.
Srettha said he was aware that Thailand has many outdated regulations that make the country less competitive than its neighbours. He said amending laws was not easy, but it is Thailand’s biggest mission.
Restructuring the economy
Srettha also pointed out that the agriculture sector requires restructuring. He added that he does not agree with policies like debt moratoriums and crop price guarantees. Instead, he said, the government needs to find ways to help farmers generate more income, so they can repay their debts. He added that he hopes to boost their income by three-fold within four years.
Srettha has also added the issue of water management to his government’s agenda. He said Thailand’s agriculture industry would grow further if the country had effective ways of dealing with droughts and floods.
“We will seek new markets, especially those that do not have food security. This will further enhance Thailand’s food security,” the premier said.
Srettha also mentioned the fishery sector, which has been suffering a deficit as Thailand imports more seafood than it exports. He said the only way out is for Thailand to renegotiate the deal on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) with the European Union, so it is a more reciprocal agreement.