Eco­nomic team still has PM’s sup­port

Bangkok Post - - FRONT PAGE - POST RE­PORTERS

Prime Min­is­ter Prayut Chan-o-cha has de­fended the work of the gov­ern­ment’s eco­nomic team, cool­ing spec­u­la­tion that key min­is­ters in the team will be purged in the next cabi­net reshuf­fle.

Emerg­ing from the weekly cabi­net meet­ing yes­ter­day, Gen Prayut re­sponded to a re­porter’s ques­tion on whether he had con­veyed moral sup­port to the eco­nomic team, es­pe­cially Fi­nance Min­is­ter Ut­tama Sa­vanayana.

Spec­u­la­tion grew at the week­end that Mr Ut­tama and other eco­nomic min­is­ters in the rul­ing Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) may not be in the cabi­net if and when a reshuf­fle takes place in the near fu­ture.

The cat­a­lyst was the rul­ing party’s gen­eral assem­bly on Satur­day, dur­ing which Mr Ut­tama was re­placed as PPRP leader and En­ergy Min­is­ter Son­ti­rat Son­ti­ji­ra­wong as party sec­re­tary-gen­eral. They also lost their places on the party ex­ec­u­tive board as talk swirled in the party over the pos­si­bil­ity of gov­ern­ment spokes­woman Naru­mon Pinyos­in­wat serv­ing on the PPRP’s eco­nomic panel and be­com­ing a can­di­date for the fi­nance port­fo­lio.

How­ever, lead­ing PPRP fig­ures have clar­i­fied that party’s eco­nomic panel and the gov­ern­ment’s eco­nomic team are sep­a­rate en­ti­ties.

This was in­ter­preted as an in­di­ca­tion that the min­is­te­rial posts held by Mr Ut­tama and Mr Son­ti­rat might will be taken away from them. The gov­ern­ment’s eco­nomic team is led by Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Somkid Ja­tus­rip­i­tak. How­ever, Gen Prayut said yes­ter­day he has no prob­lem with the eco­nomic min­is­ters.

“What do I have to speak with them [the eco­nomic min­is­ters] for? They have worked well with me all this time.

“What takes place in the party stays as a party af­fair,” the prime min­is­ter said.

Gen Prayut also vowed to pun­ish state of­fi­cials who have re­port­edly ‘given up’ on their jobs as a re­sult of an­tic­i­pat­ing a chang­ing of the guard in the eco­nomic team.

Chai­wut Thamaka­manu­sorn, a PPRP ex­ec­u­tive, said sev­eral ca­pa­ble peo­ple who are not mem­bers of the party were ea­ger to be part of the gov­ern­ment’s eco­nomic team, but were re­luc­tant to step for­ward be­cause Mr Somkid still headed the team.

“I think Mr Somkid should go. That way we can have a wider va­ri­ety of peo­ple fill­ing the eco­nomic posts,” he said.

Mr Chai­wut said he be­lieved Gen Prayut would con­sider re­plac­ing other eco­nomic min­is­ters as well.

At the first meet­ing of the new PPRP ex­ec­u­tive board yes­ter­day, party sec­re­tary-gen­eral Anucha Naka­sai said ca­pa­ble peo­ple in the PPRP, in­clud­ing Ms Naru­mon, de­serve a chance to work for the coun­try.

Prayut: Quells talk of purge

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