Thailand’s ‘New Economy’ : Finding The Right Finger Salute

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Thailand’s ‘New Economy’ : Finding The Right Finger Salute
Thai Business Box

  Thailand’s ‘New Economy’ : Finding The Right Finger Salute

By: Patra Manas.01-10-2020.

The world is looking at Thailand as the only country in the world that has managed to control the coronavirus pandemic ahead of others, with zero local transmissions and zero deaths.

It is a super achievement but sadly countries and governments are judged not only by how lives are saved but of equal importance is the protection of people’s livelihoods. The economic devastation is the partner crises that follows the pandemic like an unshakeable shadow. Put simply, the crises is comparable to one  coin with two faces, threatening lives on one hand and livelihoods on the other.

Thailand has not been able to take advantage of this lead that we had over other  nations in controlling the virus and slowly the admiration and praises that was  heaped on to our nation turned into bewilderment at how we are squandering this  opportunity. The news that hit international headlines on Thailand are all about  the young protestors and their 3 finger salute. At the heart of these protests are the  frustrations of the youth as they see their future slip out of their hands and  their path littered with broken dreams. The images of our youth and their defiant 3 finger salute has only served to reinforce the global opinion that Thailand is foundering in finding its way back economically inspite of being Covid 19 free.

The government and many pro-government followers, on the other hand are indignant and feel the anti-government movement are at best ungrateful and at  worst political. For how can anybody not be appreciative of the victory that PM Prayuth’s government was able to pull out by beating the virus against all odds?

The answer lies in the fact that the crises was not identified by the policy makers as a dual crises right from the beginning, with the government claiming victory when  only half the battle was won. A complete conquering of the crises would have earned the government a 2 finger salute, V for victory and silenced the critics. With only half  the crises tackled, pro-government followers can argue that the government still    deserves  a 1 finger salute, the thumbs up, but opposers may not be so polite with their 1 finger salute which would still in essence demand the ouster of the  government.

PM Prayuth’s government can still claim the victory salute and yes, there is a lot of work to be done to get on top of the economic crises but not an impossible task. If we follow the reasoning that the pandemic comes in a 2 in 1 crises package, it also  follows that as long as our economy is not under control, the country is still in a pandemic crises mode and must be dealt with as such.

First and foremost, we need a vision.

Create an economic war room with the best economic minds of the country which if  possible will work independently of all ministries, reporting directly to the PM’s  office. The first objective given to this economic team would be to hammer out a  vision for the country’s economic recovery, keeping in  mind that old policies may  need to be looked at again and scrutinised for two reasons. First, the economy was    not doing great even before the pandemic hit.

Secondly, the new world that awaits us post pandemic is going to be different, how different needs to be debated out.

For example, can we bank or rather should we bank on tourism and exports to  contribute upto 80% of our GDP as was the case in the past? Are there any indications globally that this would be the right vision to go with?

The  vision for the ‘new normal’ needs to be bold and daring. Breaking away from the ‘old normals’.

Let’s look at the case of China. President Xi Jinping knows the post pandemic world is going to be a tough one for China to navigate and things will never be the same again or at least not back to business as usual when the pandemic clears out.

He and his team are prepared and are already drumming up the new vision for the country, while the US and other advanced western countries are still tackling the virus problem. Mr Xi called his new initiative a ‘dual circulation’ strategy, whereby China  should rely on a strong cycle of domestic demand and innovation as the main driver of the economy as the first priority while foreign markets and investors moves down as a secondary priority. Chinese experts and officials have been tasked with fleshing  out his strategy and the best proposals will turn  into policies, to be included into China’s next five-year development plan.

Its not to say that Thailand needs to follow China’s new vision but to follow the idea of having a vision, for its obvious that what works for China would not necessarily work for Thailand.

A clear vision that is pathbreaking, innovative and inclusive of every sector and  segment, bringing the whole country under one vision will help Thailand weather the  storms ahead and stand in a much envied position in any global environment, post pandemic.

Let’s go for the V for victory salute!