Poll: Economic reform also ‘a must’

Four out of every five economists polled agreed that economic reform is essential, not just political reform, with many warning Thailand could otherwise face a severe recession or even bankruptcy in 10 years, Bangkok Poll said on Thursday.

The research centre at Bangkok University, or Bangkok Poll, reported the results of a survey on the Thai economy and national reform, interviewing 60 economists at 32 leading organisations between Jan 8 and 17.

As many as 83.4% of the respondents agreed economic reform is needed, only 8.3% disagreed, and the remaining 8.3% were unsure, the pollster reported.

Asked what economic reforms were most urgently needed, 79.3% of them pointed to suppression of corruption and enhancement of fair and transparent competition, 51.3% said fiscal policy, particularly matters of fiscal sustainability and unreasonable populist policies.

Some 49% of the polled economists wanted reform to include income distribution and inequality in income and opportunity.

Asked what would happen in the next 10 years if there was no economic reform, 44% of the economists said Thai products would not be able to stay competitive in the international community and there would be a prolonged economic recession and high rate of unemployment.

Exactly 18% of them believed the problem of high public debt would escalate and be unsolvable, fiscal status would be unstable, there would be no budget for infrastructure development megaprojects and this would finally lead to a state of economic failure and the bankruptcy of the country.

On their expectations in the next ten years if there is economic reform, 42% said the country’s competitiveness would be strengthened, the economy would grow sustainably and be strong enough to withstand any possible risk factors.

A total of 21% agreed the country’s image would improve and there would be no corruption, 15% said there would be more justice and equality in Thai society, the problem of income inequality would be minimised and social divisions would be lessened, 13% said the country would have stability, able to  play a bigger role in the global community and that the people’s quality of life would improve.

An optimistic 9% said Thailand would become the economic hub of the Asean region, there would be more investment in infrastructure overhaul, technological advancement, and stability for the country’s fiscal and monetary policies.

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