Saturday, October 31, 2020

Ex-transport minister Arkhom tipped to be new finance minister

Sep 27. 2020
Arkhom Termpittayapaisith
Arkhom Termpittayapaisith
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By The Nation

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is expected to pick Arkhom Termpittayapaisith as finance minister, according to a report by Thansettakij newspaper. 

Arkhom is expected to fill next month the vacancy created by Predee Daochai, who resigned abruptly after being in office for less than a month. 

Predee cited health reasons for resigning but observers believed he had a conflict with his deputy over the promotion of senior officials at the Finance Ministry.

Arkhom was the transport minister in the Prayut government formed after the 2014 military coup. Before that, he was secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Board, a state think-tank, now known as National Economic and Social Development Council.

He is said to be one of many influential people who pushed for upgrading the railway system in order to solve the traffic congestion in big cities and between provinces, and reduce excessive dependence on road transport.

Some local media speculated that Prasong Poontaneat, permanent secretary at the Finance Ministry, who retires at the end of this month, would be appointed the new finance minister.

Prasong later denied that he had been approached.

Prayut refused to reveal his pick, saying on Saturday that only he knew who the next finance minister would be.

The new finance minister will face multiple challenges due to conflicts in the coalition government and pressure from youth-led protests against the government.

The Thai economy is expected to contract sharply this year, with some research houses projecting contraction of almost 10 per cent while the Bank of Thailand has forecast a 7.8 per cent contraction. Exports and tourism, the main engines of growth for the Thai economy, have been hit hard by the Covid-19 outbreak. The ongoing anti-government protests are also putting high pressure on the local stock market.

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