TDRI gives mixed ratings to government’s performance in digital economy policy

The outgoing government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has made some achievements and, at the same time, failed in its policy to drive Thailand toward a digital economy over the past five years, according to an assessment by Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI).

TDRI president Somkiat Tangkitvanich said yesterday that the government had rolled out several measures through the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, the TOT, CAT Telecom and the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).

He listed the government’s tangible achievements as:

  • The end to the use of photocopies of ID cards and household registration papers in government paperwork
  • Removal of the requirement for Immigration 6 form for Thai nationals leaving and entering the country
  • Removal of the requirement for a police complaint form to order to apply for a replacement ID card or driving license
  • Generation of fierce competition for 4G telecom spectrum
  • The introduction of the Prompt Pay service by the Bank of Thailand and the Finance Ministry, which help reduce service charges in money transfers and help in the promotion of e-Commerce business.

He reported that the government was not so successful in the following digital economy projects:

  • The Pracharat internet service to enable grassroots access to free internet services
  • The promotion of startup business due to competition from governmental agencies operating in the same sector
  • Many applications, introduced to improve government services, did not work as intended.

Dr. Somkiat said that the use of special powers, under Section 44 of the interim Constitution, in matters relating to the NBTC had caused damage, citing the extension of the term of board members who are over 70 years old, which he considered to be direct interference with an independent organization.

He also cited the government’s generous treatment of the country’s three mobile phone operators by allowing them to pay license fees by instalment and of the digital TV operators by allowing them to return their licenses and receive refunds of the license fees.

The cyber security law introduced by the government also came under criticism from the TDRI for violation of the freedoms and liberties of the people.

TDRI recommended that the new government should:

  • Amend the NBTC law, so a new board can be elected
  • Speed up the implementation of digital government services
  • Accelerate the adoption of open data so the public can access information
  • Uniform promotion of startup businesses
  • Amend the cyber security law.

 

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