As head of government, Srettha is swift to get down to business
Formerly a top executive from the corporate world, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has his unique style of running the government.
This was reflected during the first official meeting of his Cabinet on Wednesday, which saw a swift meeting process, a clear follow-up schedule, and a long list of instructions for relevant state agencies and government ministers.
Its first formal meeting came just a day after the new Cabinet delivered its policy statement in a parliamentary meeting on Monday and Tuesday.
Srettha was president and chief executive of property giant Sansiri Plc before entering politics this year as a prime ministerial candidate of the Pheu Thai Party, which is now the ruling coalition’s largest partner.
Political observers noted that Srettha’s style of chairing his Cabinet meeting was totally different from that of his immediate predecessor, General Prayut Chan-o-cha, who held the top political job for nine consecutive years. During Prayut’s tenure, a typical Cabinet meeting often lasted longer.
Srettha’s first Cabinet meeting progressed swiftly because the PM had met representatives from relevant state agencies on the previous day to discuss the matters to be considered by the Cabinet. These included a proposal to allow visa-free entry for tourists from China and Kazakhstan. On the eve of his first Cabinet meeting, PM Srettha discussed the matter in detail with officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Tourism and Sports, as well as security agencies.
A meeting to review the 2024 state budget involving four economic agencies, which was chaired by Srettha, was completed in just half an hour, as the participants had discussed the relevant numbers at their previous meeting.
Regarding government policies that need to be finalised, the PM instructed responsible Cabinet members to look into the matter and report their progress within an exact timeframe. Government ministers were also advised to set up their working groups to coordinate with relevant agencies if needed.
For observers, this appears to be modelled after a CEO style of running a large business. It differs from the past, when the Cabinet waited for policy proposals from ministries and other agencies. It was a lengthy process for proposals to reach the Cabinet and for the prime minister to make instructions.
At his first Cabinet meeting, PM Srettha gave instructions regarding 14 matters to relevant ministers and agencies, according to government spokesman Chai Watcharong.
The Prime Minister’s Office was assigned to organise the 72nd birthday celebration of His Majesty the King on July 28 next year.
Deputy Premier Phumtham Wechayachai was assigned to appoint a committee to study how to hold a referendum on drafting a new constitution. Phumtham was also assigned to chair a committee tasked with making preparations for droughts over the next three years due to El Nino.
Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat and relevant agencies were assigned to finalise the government project to transfer 10,000 baht into the digital wallets of every Thai aged 16 and over. Julapun was also instructed to set up a working group on a debt moratorium for farmers and operators of small and medium-sized businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul was assigned to set up a working group to deal with the problem of illegal firearms. Anutin was also instructed to implement the visa-free policy starting from September 25.
Deputy Premier and Energy Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga was assigned to devise measures to reduce electricity and fuel prices as soon as possible.
Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew was instructed to set up a working group to upgrade the universal healthcare programme.