Incoherent Industry Policies – Badly Reported or Inherently Incoherent or Both?

MCOT is reporting that the Industry Ministry is outlining a set of five ‘short-term’ policies aimed at relieving economic difficulties – it is a curious mix of measures and it is difficult to know whether this is poor reporting (it has not appeared in any obvious form on other English language websites) or poor presentation of policies or, perhaps, simply a sign of muddled thinking (of course, this being Thailand, all three of these could be possible simultaneously or two out of three etc and so on).

The policies are said to be:

A budget of more than Bt16 billion is needed for implementation of the five strategies, which are designed to build investor confidence, preventing mass layoffs, reviving the struggling industrial sectors, and ending the unrest in the three southern border provinces.”

Well, industrial policy would be an important part of a sustainable solution to the southern issues (although not while the army continues to run wild there) but it is hardly a ‘short-term’ measure. ‘Preventing mass layoffs’ suggests subsidizing failing companies – who is going to decide which company deserves and which does not (assuming not every company can afford the 80 million baht to buy a seat in the cabinet)? Which industries are to be revived? Surely the problem is (as I intend to write shortly, perhaps tomorrow), that the economy has not yet sufficiently moved on from the industries which have got Thailand to the middle income stage but which will be unable to get it to the high income state (which is what the World Bank calls the ‘middle income trap’)?

[No point looking up to the skies now as it is dark and I am indoors. Well, I could look up and life my skinny fists etc but would arguably end up in a strait waistcoat sooner or later.]