Competing Populist PoliciesBy Bangkok Pundit Oct 30, 2007 12:05AM UTC
“The Matchima Thippatai party is contesting the election with a total of 42 state welfare and populist policies. These policies will lead to free healthcare for everyone, including for some kidney ailments that are currently not covered by the state welfare system, and free education, plus free food and books for kids.
“In short, our welfare package will be more comprehensive than the previous Thai Rak Thai-led government. Then, we’ll overhaul the budget system to separate the investment budget from the fixed expenditure budget.
“The problem is our current fiscal budget of Bt1.66 trillion is mainly for fixed expenses such as salaries (which altogether amount to some Bt1.2 trillion), leaving only some Bt400 billion for public investment.
“Such an amount is too small to drive economic growth so we have to come up with a separate investment budget financed by government bonds.
“Then, we’ll help drive economic growth by launching more mega-infrastructure projects such as a total of 10 mass transit lines in Bangkok and the suburbs, the Kra Isthmus canal scheme, and double railway tracks nationwide.
COMMENT: Big infrastructure projects by Matchima Thippatai. I think TRT probably went to the limit, if not over it, in its term of office on government spending. It will be difficult to finance without the government going into debt and hence the government bonds mentioned by Prachai – surely this would constitute government debt? Wouldn’t any bank be nervous in giving any money that went through Prachai’s hands? Then again, they can promise a lot and know they wouldn’t need to deliver on any of it as they are not a major party.
btw, I don’t remember the name of the very minor party, but there is a party out there who are, wait for this, promising 10 billion baht for each province. A village fund on a massive scale with close to 800 billion baht of spending. This will probably be the only piece of news we get from them this election cycle.
On PPP, The Nation reports:
The party yesterday also announced 12 policies for its campaign platform, most of them borrowed from ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s Thai Rak Thai party.
Deputy secretary-general Noppadon Pattama said the party would utilise and adapt the populist policies of the Thaksin government as well as improve on policies of the current administration.
Among the policies the party promises to implement if it wins the election are: no tax increases; a debt moratorium for farmers; further development of the Village Fund; allocation of the Small Medium Large fund (Bt300,000, Bt500,000, Bt700,000), implement the second stage of the One Tambon One Product project; set up a People Bank; increase capital for small- and medium-sized enterprises; distribute one million cattle to 100,000 farms; price guarantees for agricultural produce; allow people who find employment overseas to pay the job placement fee after starting work; and proceed with CEO-style provincial governors.
The party also promised to improve the Bt30-per-hospital-visit scheme by allowing people to use ID cards for any treatment, including emergency healthcare. Workers with social security will enjoy coverage for their families as well.
Students will be given educational loans that they can pay back after they get jobs, a project which would be funded by the two- and three-digit lottery. The party pledged to help teachers reduce their debts and give village heads the same healthcare coverage enjoyed by bureaucrats.
The party also promised to build proper roads connecting every village and to replace the dirt roads within four years. It also plans to establish centres to help vocational students start businesses and a new Thailand Knowledge Park project to develop online libraries.
COMMENT: Comparatively, PPP look like fiscal conservatives. Very rural and lower class orientated although personally I am not so sure on the debt moratorium, price guarantees, and allowing people to pay the job placement fee after starting work. The later one will probably win some voters, I am just not sure how a system could be set up and how cost-effective it would be although I assume it is designed to save people from borrowing from loan sharks, but I am not sure this would really help as they will still have to borrow for any “unofficial fees”.
I have seen other mention of infrastructure projects that apparently PPP support although no specifics so I assume this policy will be rolled out later. I think they are looking a little infrastructure light at the moment.
The article also mentions:
The party also announced the line-up of its 35 women candidates, saying it would field the most number of women candidates among the political parties contesting the election.
The women candidates include former MPs and MP candidates such as Karuna Chidchob, Puwanida Khunpalin and Supamas Isarapakdi. Among the new women candidates are Leelawadee Watcharobol, Chinnicha Wongsawat, Parichart Chaleekrau and Pattana Sangkhasap.
COMMENT: On the surface it seems they are supporting female candidates, but look as some of those surnames and you can see they match the surname of TRT members who were banned (Chidchob would surely be a Newin relative/spouse). Nevertheless, it is a somewhat creative way and particularly for some middle-class women it might make PPP seem a more attractive option as they appear to be supporting women – compare with the Democrats where women candidates are scarce. PPP still needs as many party list votes as possible. I doubt it will win a large number of votes, but emphasising a differences is important in a campaign and doesn’t cost that much either so it seems like a smart move.