Economics professor accuses parties of wooing voters with dream populist policies


All political parties contesting the March-24 election are engaged in selling “dream” populist policies to woo voters without clarifying how they will fund these policies, said Mr.Narong Petprasert, a lecturer in political economics at Chulalongkorn University.


All populist policies, be it cash handouts for the poor, free social security or a welfare state, can only be implemented using tax revenue, yet none of the parties have explained their planned tax measures to raise the funds needed for their implementation, said the professor.

He proposed the Scandinavian model of progressive rates of corporate and personal income taxes, such as 20%-28% value-added tax and 17%-18% personal income taxes for those who earn from one million to 100 million baht per annum and higher tax rates for higher incomes as well as high property and inheritance tax rates.


Mr. Narong said “For any society which aspires to become a welfare state, where the poor and low income-earners receive handouts from the state, the government must demand high taxes from the rich and high income-earners.  However, in Thailand the government reduces taxes for the rich from 30% to 19% making them even richer.  So the question is where can agovernment get the money to fund its populist policies?”


He also noted that none of the existing parties have proposed any solution to unemployment to be caused, in the near future, by so-called Disruptive Technology when artificial intelligence and robotics are introduced to replace human labour.


Noting that half of Thailand’s GDP relies on consumption, Mr.Narong said consumption will drop substantially if more people are left redundant due to disruptive technology and, in the end, the national economy will suffer.


He pointed out that the free market economy does not support small-scale entrepreneurs such as vendors and “mom-and-pop” businesses, but benefits big businesses which do not just control the production sector but also distribution, driving the small-scale businesses into bankruptcy or closure.


Instead of supporting the idea of a labour bank to provide low income-earners with access to cheap loans for education or occupational development, Mr. Narong said the current government chose to support fico-finance which has failed to address the problem of informal debt.


Describing cash handouts given to the poor by past governments as “morsels of bone” thrown at the poor, he said the moneyultimately found its way to big business, making them even richer.


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