Section 5
Introducing the Thailand Future Index

To this end, we construct an index to capture how well we are preparing ourselves for the future.     It spans the four broad areas we have discussed (economy, social, environment, and governance), but in each area it zeroes in on the few critical outcomes we really need for our future given where we are today.  In the area of economy, for example, what we really need is productivity and knowhow.  These are therefore the only two indicators we track in this subcomponent of the index.  In social, we focus on youth.  In environment, energy intensity and the different kinds of pollution.  In governance, corruption and stability.  While there are obviously many other indicators that are important in each of these sub-areas, we focus on these to avoid diluting our KPIs. 

Since 2003, the Thailand Future Index has dropped from 100 (its base value in 2003 across all areas) to 90 in 2012.  All 4 components have dropped, with the biggest declines in the areas of environment and especially governance.  Control of corruption has seen among the biggest declines, but the single area which has seen the largest deterioration is ministerial stability.  Ministerial turnover is extremely high, 17 out of 19 ministers have been changed.  The average tenure of a minister is down to only 11 months.

Why?  The focus on GDP makes us do things which undermine our future….As such they are readily ignored.  For example, between 2003 and 2006, for example, our GDP growth averaged a very robust 5.8%.  The world economy was growing well along with our exports.  But the Thailand Future Index dropped from 100 to 93 during this time due to declines in governance (control of corruption and stability) and social (increases in youth crimes).  But a temporary drop in our headline export and GDP numbers ….Where is our sense of urgency when it comes to these long run matters?   

A long-delayed physical exam.  The purpose of this paper was not to paint a bleak or negative picture, but to objectively review our historical record to see what we need to improve for our health and wellness.  Thailand is a country of great potential.  We have many strengths: a strategic location; reasonable natural resources; global leader in the food and tourism space.  But we should not allow these strengths to lull us into complacency and a false sense of security.  Most would agree that we have been performing significantly below our potential. Hopefully this paper has contributed to a greater sense of urgency for taking the actions we all know need to be done to avoid the kind of decline that no one wants to see.

Sample of the Thailand Future Index