Fri, 08 Dec 2000

Election promises must be realizable

The Thai economy is still not secure. Ground has been made since the crisis befell us but we are far from home yet. We have an election early next year and the political parties are making all sorts of promises in exchange for votes. If things go wrong, will they accept responsibility?

The positive report of American credit rating agency Standard et Poor's (SetP) on Thailand's long- and short-term sovereign and senior unsecured ratings is in sharp contrast to the sentiment of local people that the Chuan government has mismanaged the economy. The ratings affirmation indicates that foreign investors don't agree with many local pundits that the Thai economy is not getting any better. One of the main factors for the ratings affirmation is the continuing economic reform program.

SetP said it thought Thailand's overall economic policy and reform program would stay on course in the medium term no matter who formed the next government. But the ratings could weaken if the pace of private-sector reforms slows significantly, or if alternative non-market proposals by the next government gain widespread public acceptance and undermine the confidence of international markets.

Collapse, time and again, has been the result of corruption or the shattering of a coalition alliance. The present election campaign is the first in which political parties have gone out among the voters with a policy package, thanks largely to Thai Rak Thai which has pioneered this undertaking. How grand it would be if Thai Rak Thai also goes on to become the first party to keep its election promises should it win government and, better still, takes responsibility should there be any problems as a result of those promises. But, of course, this does not apply only to Thai Rak Thai, but to all parties.

-- The Bangkok Post