By The Nation
Prayut made an appeal for help to the 20 richest Thais via a national television broadcast on Friday.
Prayut said he would next week write an open letter to the 20 richest Thais, asking them for contributions in the efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19, which has had a huge impact on people's health and cost of living.
The hashtag # beggar government became a trend on Twitter on Friday after Prayut went on TV.
Despite, the number of new cases falling to around 30 over the past several days, many people are unhappy with lockdown restrictions, which have resulted in workers being laid off and businesses shutting down.
Some who did not get cash handouts after they had registered on the government website, joined a protest at the Finance Ministry demanding cash handouts. A big crowd was seen at Don Muang Buddhist Temple, which provided free food to affected people.
Meanwhile, Anusorn Tamajai, director at Rangsit University’s Economic and Business Research Centre, wrote an open letter on Sunday (April 19) to the 20 richest, apparently mocking Prayut’s planned letter.
Anusorn said he wants the richest people, if they have a chance to meet Prayut, to tell him that as both PM and Defence Minister he should cut weapons spending for the next 3-5 years.
If Prayut does so, he could save as much as Bt100 billion to Bt200 billion, which could be reallocated to help people and small businesses affected by Covid-19.
The government can save between Bt300 billion to Bt400 billion a year if it could get rid of corruption and cut spending on unproductive projects, he said.
The tycoons should tell PM to review the State of Emergency as many countries such as South Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand and Denmark do not impose the state of emergency but they have contained the virus outbreak, he said.
To assure people confidence in fighting the virus, the government should conduct mass testing in some parts of the countries as many countries do, so they do not need to close cities as Thailand does. If the government cannot afford mass testing due to limited financial resources, the tycoons should donate to support the task, he suggested.
The 20 richest should ask Prayut, former leader of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and his former ministers and National Legislative Assembly members to return tax money they received during the NCPO rule after the 2014 coup. The tax money should be allocated to support people affected by the enforcement of Article 44 conferring absolute power under the interim Constitution 2017, said Anusorn.
The tycoons should ask Prayut to review the Bt400-billion Bank of Thailand’s emergency decree designed to buy corporate bonds.
“The legislation should pass through Parliament in order to ensure checks and balances,” he said.
Anusorn said he was worried that some people will take advantage of the state of emergency and enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers who have to pay the bill finally.