The Government is giving financial assistance to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in two major projects: the fifth stage of the Portfolio Guarantee Scheme and the Policy Loan Scheme. Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha said that the two projects, which had been approved by the Cabinet, would help reduce production costs for SMEs. The fifth stage of the Portfolio Guarantee Scheme began on 8 January 2013, with a fund of 240 billion baht. The Cabinet on 16 June 2015 allowed the scheme to draw an amount of 50 billion baht from the fund. The amount aims to reduce the burden of SMEs in paying the guarantee fee to the Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation. In the Policy Loan Scheme, a fund of 15 billion baht will be offered to SMEs in the form of low-interest loans. The objective is to facilitate their operations and enhance their competitiveness.
The policy loans will be extended to new customers only and not those seeking to refinance debts from other financial institutions. Prime Minister Prayut said that the SMEs that are receiving a major boost from the Government are those under the “One Tambon, One Product,” or “OTOP” program. There are many OTOP products that need to be improved, in terms of design, so that they would become more attractive. He explained that relevant government agencies and private organizations would offer a helping hand by giving advice to OTOP operators. The OTOP products that have good potential would be developed further to enable them to go international. The Prime Minister said that the Government is trying every possible way to help OTOP operators. Major shopping malls and convenience stores would be asked to provide space for the sale of OTOP products.
The Ministry of Transport is considering a plan to sell OTOP products on airlines. He said that the Government would promote the establishment of more community, cooperative, and tourism markets, where local residents would be allowed to sell their products directly to consumers, without passing through middlemen. In addition, central markets, like the one along the Phadung Krung Kasem Canal near Government House, will be set up in various communities in the suburbs. The Prime Minister said that such a market will offer more alternatives for local people to buy products of good quality at reasonable prices.
The Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, the Ministry of Interior, and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration are working together in the “social business” project, which is part of the social enterprise chain in the private sector. The Prime Minister believed that the project would help empower farmers and contribute to the operations of the private sector, as well.