By NOPHAKHUN LIMSAMARNPHUN
SOMKID JATUSRIPITAK, a former deputy prime minister, is expected to join the Cabinet around the end of July after an amendment to the provisional charter of 2014 is approved by the National Legislative Assembly.
Currently chairman of the prime minister’s advisory board, Somkid last year was unable to join the Cabinet because he was among the 111 former politicians banned from taking up posts under the interim charter.
Sources close to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said it was highly likely that Somkid would be given a Cabinet post in the upcoming reshuffle, possibly taking charge of economic policies.
It is unclear whether Somkid will also bring in other people to take up economic portfolios or how this would affect MR Pridiyathorn Devakula, the deputy prime minister currently responsible for economic affairs.
Somkid played a prominent role in executing economic policies during the Thaksin Shinawatra administration back in the early 2000s. His expertise is in international marketing, branding and related areas, which sources say would be useful to help shore up the Prayut government’s popularity, especially in economic, exports and related spheres.
While Prayut’s military regime has restored domestic political stability to some extent, many people are |less satisfied with the |government’s economic |management.
Sources say the weak global demand for goods has become one of the biggest challenges facing the economy at this juncture, since exports account for more than 70 per cent of gross domestic product.
Over the past four months, Thailand’s exports have declined 3.99 per cent, with April shipments down 1.7 |per cent from the previous month.
Inflation dropped to negative-1.27 per cent in May, the lowest in five years and eight months, suggesting the economy is running into a growth challenge.
Political pundits have warned that the government will face more public dissatisfaction if people’s economic well-being worsens in the coming months.
To prevent a further slide in popularity, the prime minister would need to restore public confidence and boost effectiveness in executing crucial economic reforms by reshuffling his economic portfolios, they said.
Once the charter amendments are approved by the NLA, possibly by July end of this month, Prayut is expected to work on the crucial Cabinet reshuffle with a focus on |the economic-management |team.