JSCCIB: Politics could hurt rehabilitation

 JSCCIB: Politics could hurt rehabilitation
Gen Prawit Wongsuwon, who did not attend the PPRP meeting at Impact Muang Thong Thani, thanks his supporters onscreen after they elected him as leader on Saturday. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) is worried political infighting could hinder the roll-out of economic rehabilitation plans, especially if there are major reshuffles in ministries overseeing the economy.

The group voiced its concerns during a meeting on the economic outlook on Wednesday amid growing speculation the government may change some cabinet members on its economic team.

The political uncertainty, happening as the economy is reeling from the pandemic, follows the appointment of a new executive board of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), which saw Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana replaced as PPRP leader and Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong as party secretary-general.

JSCCIB wants a person who excels in economic affairs to lead the economic team, said Kalin Sarasin, a JSCCIB member and chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak is in charge of the team at present.

“Thailand needs an expert who can drive the domestic economy forward during an economic slowdown,” said Mr Kalin.

Earlier the cabinet approved a 400-billion-baht spending package, part of a 1.9-trillion-baht relief scheme meant to soften the economic blow from the outbreak.

“Capable ministers are needed to manage the huge budget,” he said.

“If a cabinet reshuffle cannot be avoided, the final decision should rest with [prime minister] Prayut Chan-o-cha.”

JSCCIB is keeping a close watch on how the government plans to fix the country’s financial ills and stimulate business activities after the initial assistance packages, including 5,000-baht handouts for three months, ended in June.

“Those packages were not enough to support the domestic economy and did not relieve the economic impact of the pandemic,” Mr Kalin said.

While the government has lifted lockdown measures, maintaining only a ban on a few activities that involve crowds, concerns for the economy persist as the virus, largely subdued domestically, may yet return.

“The government should come up with new measures to prevent a second wave of outbreak,” said Supant Mongkolsuthree, another JSCCIB member and chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries.

Many businesses do not want to see the government reimpose quick lockdown measures again if local transmissions of the disease erupts.

“New infections occur every day. The government should not panic,” Mr Supant said.

“A new virus lockdown will further affect an already strained economy.”

Related post