Saturday, August 22, 2009

Abhisit unveils national progressive index

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday unveiled his new national progressive index at The Nation-sponsored "Asia: Road to a New Economy" conference in Bangkok, which featured Nobel economics laureate Joseph Stiglitz.

Speaking before a packed house at the Plaza Athen้e Hotel, Abhisit said his government had been working hard to deliver a sustainable, progressive and caring society for the people of Thailand despite the global economic crisis.

"For many small and medium-size economies, it has been difficult to completely protect ourselves from the global economic crisis despite the hard work we put in as a result of the 1997 economic crisis," he said.

Abhisit said the biggest obstacle in addressing globalisation imbalances was a national sovereignty issue. "If financial instruments and investment can freely flow across borders and no institutions can truly provide global regulations and implement those measures, there is no way we can correct the fundamental problems," he said.

"At the very least, Western countries should respond to the call so that emerging countries should have a fair representation at existing global-level institutions."

The premier also said that although the current market system guaranteed efficiency, no economic theory suggested that the system should be just and guaranteed a fair distribution. "'In the market system, food doesn't necessarily go to the hungry," he said.

All governments, Abhisit said, should consider reorienting their policies. "The issue is not coming up with a single index to replace gross domestic product."

According to Abhisit, governments should be more well-rounded and not obsessed with GDP growth. Financial institutions should also not be obsessed with maximising financial returns.

"What began as mere financial risks led to economic problems that fed the current crises and may easily lead to future social and political problems," he said.

Abhisit said his government had developed its progressive-Thailand philosophy to deal with the current global economic crisis and internal political challenges.

The government, he added, had made good progress on all fronts. "The political situation is stable and all indicators indicate that economic recovery is on the way." The PM said his government would make Thailand progressive by using each letter of the word to denote key goals.

The letter P stands for people, he said. "From day one, when we approached the crisis, we realised all our policies must be people-oriented so that the most vulnerable and poorest are protected."

R is for reconciliation. "We want to ensure that our political system is not an obstacle to recovery and that law enforcement is proficient and fair."

O is for openness. "We want to keep our economy open and not resort to protectionism."

G stands for good governance, because it is clear to everyone that a lack of good governance led to the current and past crises, the premier said.

"Adherence to the rule of law is a fundamental principle of democracy and, together with the promotion of rights and fundamental freedoms, must be high on the agenda," he said.

R stands for regional integration by 2015 so all Asean nations become one large market. "It will contribute to decoupling as more opportunities present themselves to all 10 nations."

E stands for economic recovery. "Our second stimulus package will spend US$45 million [Bt1.53 billion] on infrastructure. It will not only create jobs but also provide a competitive foundation for future growth," he said.

The double S's stand for His Majesty the King's theories on sufficiency economy and sustainable development. "To erase any confusion, sufficiency economy is not about self-sufficiency. It's about living in a balanced manner and living in moderation," he said.

I is for innovation, V for vision and E for education. "Education is a most worthwhile investment and our 15-year free-education initiative will help Thailand build a long-term sustainable economy," he said.

No comments: