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Thailand Allots THB2.5 Billion for Digital Development

Around THB2.5 billion will be set aside for digital development projects subject to be financed by the Digital Economy and Society Development Fund (DE Fund) in fiscal 2022, the Digital Economy and Society (DES) Minister recently said.

Parties that wish to pitch their projects can submit their proposals for consideration from 15 February to 31 March 2022, especially in the areas of fintech, health tech, government tech, innovation tech, agriculture tech, digital and manpower. Funding for digital projects, the Minister said, is vital to accelerate the country’s digital transformation in sync with the new economy and normalcy.

The DE Fund, established under the DES Act, is mainly supported by the Office of National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC), which set aside 15% of its earnings from the spectrum auction and 15% of its annual fee revenue for it. The NBTC office allots about THB5 billion to the fund each year, the Minister said. He noted that the Digital Economy and Society Development Fund Management Committee has approved the financing of 2.5 billion baht under the fund to the projects for fiscal 2022. Projects wishing to make a pitch can find details on the website.

Meanwhile, the committee, chaired by the nation’s Deputy Prime Minister, on 2 February 2022, approved eight digital projects worth a combined THB1 billion, which will be pursued by the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa). The committee’s meeting was also attended by the Permanent Secretary for the Digital Economy and Society and the Secretary-General of the Office of the National Digital Economy and Society Commission.

The eight projects comprise a school bus platform, a platform project called “Connexion”, a project to digitally transform local markets, a project that supports digital new generations, a health information exchange system, a digital project to support the country’s reopening for tourism as well as a campaign to upskill games service entrepreneurs to international level and a project to develop operators in the e-sports industry. These eight projects will also be financed by the DE Fund.

It was noted that the DE Fund is meant to transform the country’s economy and society towards a completely digital realm. This will lead the country towards digital Thailand in line with the national policy and plan to support digital development for both the economy and society. Thailand’s overall investment applications in 2021 rose by 59% to THB643 billion (US$19.4 billion), boosted by foreign investment pledges in tech sectors, the country’s investment agency said recently.

For 2022, the Board of Investment (BOI) expects total investment pledges to be close to last year or higher if the Covid-19 situation improves and the global economy continues to expand. In 2021, foreign direct investment (FDI) pledges accounted for 71% of total applications, totalling THB455.3 billion, an almost three-fold rise from the THB169.3 billion in 2020, the BOI said.

Japan, China and Singapore were the top three source countries of FDI applications. The country is seeing constant growth in foreign investments in target sectors such as smart electronics, speciality chemicals, bioplastics and the medical cluster. On 3 February 2022, the BOI added digital trading platforms for agricultural products and agrifood industrial estates/parks to its list of businesses eligible for incentives.

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