Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha orders the creation of a new ministry on R&D (Source: bangkokpost)

Bangkok (VNA) – Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has asked for a formation of a ministry of higher education, research and development as soon as possible.

The ministry will be set up to handle the country's human resources development to meet labour demands related to the Thailand 4.0 policy, the development of 10 targeted industries that are designated to become the new engines of Thailand's economy, and a freshly approved 20-year national strategy.

On July 3, the Thai Government approved the establishment of the new ministry, which comprises 11 government units related to R&D under the Science and Technology Ministry, 84 public universities and 73 private universities.

The government will set aside 97 billion baht (2.92 billion USD) in fiscal 2019 for the new ministry's budget.

Deputy Education Minister Udom Kachintorn said that the government hopes that the new ministry will be instrumental in supporting existing high education institutes to improve their academic capabilities and support R&D to meet the demands of industries. The new ministry will also play a vital role in tackling income disparity.

According to him, a draft bill to establish the new ministry is scheduled to be proposed to the National Legislative Assembly by November, with establishment by February next year.

Thailand’s R&D spending was 102.5 billion baht in 2017, equal to 0.75 percent of the country’s GDP, up from 0.62 percent of 2015.

The government expects Thailand's overall spending on R&D and innovation will reach 1 percent of GDP over the next 1-2 years.

For two decades, expenditure on R&D and innovation never exceeded 0.25 percent of GDP, until spending began to gradually increase five years ago.

The government is committed under its 20-year national strategy to raise R&D expenditure to 2 percent of the country's GDP by 2036. The plan calls for the private sector to provide 80 percent of R&D spending by 2036 (up from 70 percent).-VNA