ASIA NEWS NETWORK
WE KNOW ASIA BETTER
Thai junta pushes for Gross National Happiness
Publication Date : 03-06-2014
Thailand's junta chief suggested yesterday that the country's economic and social development plan be amended so that the policy aims to boost gross national happiness.
General Prayuth Chan-ocha, leader of the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), made the suggestion during a meeting of key junta figures and the heads of various state agencies, including the National Economic and Social Development Board, the Budget Bureau, the Finance Ministry, and the Prime Minister's Office.
He also assigned relevant state agencies to conduct a "Happiness Index" since the coup on May 22.
Meanwhile, the junta chief has seen positive changes in the political conflict that has gone on over the past nine years, a source said yesterday. The commander expressed satisfaction at what the military has done since the May 22 coup in a bid to bring about reconciliation between the feuding sides, the source said.
Prayuth, who chaired yesterday's meeting, said that to further push for national reconciliation a reform council would be set up and new laws needed to be issued so that the goal could be achieved, according to the source.
"General Prayuth said things have been going in the right direction. He hoped that the conflict between people of different political colours will end eventually," the source said.
A centre of reconciliation for national reform will be set up, with the Interior Ministry and the Internal Security Operations Command acting as the main driving force and governors the hosts in their provinces, the source said.
The ISOC will convene a meeting tomorrow about the guidelines and activities for reconciliation. The SET Index yesterday reacted positively to the junta's economic 'roadmap' with a rise of 25.21 points to close at 1,440.94. Turnover was 55.58 billion baht.
At the meeting yesterday, held at Royal Thai Army headquarters on Rajdamnoen Avenue, the junta put emphasis on urgently boosting the economy, and urged people to live peacefully.
Its disbursement plan for the 2014 budget will be forwarded for approval in the next two weeks. It says this should boost national 'happiness'.
The NCPO chief gave additional policies for the 11th National Economic and Social Development Plan that focus on people living together happily.
The NCPO spokesman said the economic 'roadmap' focused on the remaining budget for the 2014 fiscal year, as there were legal difficulties over budget disbursement. Now, disbursement would be decided by the NCPO and they expected it would take two weeks to get certain information.
"The NCPO chief says that speeding up the disbursement will be good for the economy and can make people happier," NCPO deputy spokeswoman Colonel Sirichan Ngathong said.
After "solutions" were found for the 2013/14 budget, the 2014/15 budget would be put up for review straight away with a focus on necessities, budget management and continuity of annual expenditure to drive the economy. The NCPO has assigned related agencies to study projects within two weeks and propose them later.
Infrastructure projects under the 2-trillion-baht loan package would need to be studied in terms of what are priorities with national benefits and acceptance by the people. Public hearings were also needed for impact assessments on these projects.
The advantages or disadvantages of high-speed trains also needed to be studied and sources of finance should not affect fiscal discipline and public debt levels.
Double-track rail lines would certainly be given the go ahead. However, funding would be sought by the Budget Bureau and the figure had not been fixed yet.
Some projects from the 350-billion-baht water management scheme would also be implemented.
"The NCPO will focus on the King's advice for water management - to help store water and prevent floods. Soldiers will carry out urgent projects and that could reduce corruption, the NCPO spokesman said.