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Thailand’s Poverty Situation Has Improved
Source: thailand.prd.go.th
Source Date: Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government
Country: Thailand
Created: Jun 28, 2010

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has stressed that Thailand was not facing failure to reduce poverty, saying that the country’s major figures, compiled by the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board, indicate that the poverty situation has improved.

He referred to the statement made by Mrs. Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), during her interview with AFP on June 16 that Thailand’s progress in tackling poverty was being hindered by political tensions, and that what was needed would be a “national dialogue on how to move to elections which are seen as free and fair and people will accept the result.”

The Prime Minister admitted that the political problem still caused obstacles and conflicts came from both the system and politicians. However, the Government is trying to cope with the obstacles and constraints to enable the country to move forward. He said that low-income people under the poverty line in Thailand had been adversely affected by the 1997 economic crisis. As for the crisis in 2008, the situation was better than that in 1997, as the Government has a policy of stimulating the economy, with an emphasis on helping the underprivileged.

Regarding the interview with the UNDP Administrator referring to the political situation in Thailand, Mr. Biravij Suwanpradhes, Acting Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, said that the view of the UNDP Administrator was expressed in the context of efforts towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), whereby she referred to the progress made by Southeast Asian countries in eradicating extreme poverty and obstacles thereto, without specifically focusing on Thailand. Indeed, Thailand has achieved most of the MDGs, such as halving the proportion of the poor and that of people who suffer from hunger, eliminating gender inequality in primary and secondary education, halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS and the incidence of malaria, and halving the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

He pointed out that Thailand is fully committed to achieving all the goals by the target date of 2015. He also added that Mrs. Clark’s view was consistent with the efforts by the Thai government in pressing ahead with its reconciliation plan, which includes a participatory national reform process that addresses economic and social disparity and poverty, as well as a political reform and constitutional amendment process to work on relevant rules so that they would be accepted by all sides.

Given the empirical evidence on the income gap between the rural and urban areas in Thailand, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya highlighted the need to set the target date on poverty alleviation among the poor Thais, as it will advance and strengthen long-term stability in the country. He touched on the issue of poverty eradication when Mr. Hiroyuki Konuma, Assistant Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, paid a courtesy call on him on June 16. Mr. Konuma emphasized FAO’s work in the northern, northeastern, and southern Thailand. Foreign Minister Kasit believed that FAO cooperation would greatly complement the Thai government’s strategies to boost national growth and eradicate poverty, especially in rural areas.
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