FTI, TCC look to new cabinet for greater economic stimulus


April 29, 2024

Following the unexpected resignation of Parnpree Bahiddha-nukara as Minister of Foreign Affairs after being removed from his role as Deputy Prime Minister in the weekend’s Cabinet reshuffle, Kriengkrai Thiennukul, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), noted that Foreign Affairs Ministry is an integral part of the economy and thus Parnpree’s departure could have some short-term impacts.

“His resignation is both surprising and shocking. The government may need to appoint a mediator to conduct negotiations or perhaps find a replacement. It remains to be seen who will step in, their capabilities, and suitability for the role,” said Kriangkrai.

The cabinet reshuffle is widely seen as a move to increase flexibility, especially as the government transitions into an economic stimulus mode. This is necessary now that the budget, which was stuck for over 8 months, has been approved, and projects such as the distribution of 10,000 baht through digital wallets in the third quarter of this year looks set to go ahead.

The reshuffle of the cabinet will also strengthen the Finance Ministry, which will now have a strong and ready team to drive policies, freeing up the Prime Minister to focus more on economic policies on which he places great importance.

The private sector must commend the Prime Minister for giving importance to such issues as interest rates, Kriengkrai said. Although the Bank of Thailand (BOT) is maintaining current interest rates, the Prime Minister has addressed the issue by inviting major banks to lead and assist vulnerable groups and struggling SMEs to continue their business operations by extending their repayment period until the government’s policies take effect. This demonstrates that the Prime Minister has laid out a well-thought-out management plan, he added.

“Tourism will be the primary focus and combined with the soft power initiatives that the government is currently implementing, will lead to increased tourist spending of 50,000 baht per person, up from the previous 40,000 baht, Export activities will gradually improve too, and the government budget allocations will inject money into the economy. When combined with digital wallets, it will further boost the economy. The manufacturing sector will increase both domestic production and exports,” said Kriangkrai.

Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC), said that the reshuffle that incorporates individuals with expertise in economics is deemed appropriate. This Cabinet now includes ministers who understand the private sector and have experience in management, and will therefore assist the government in formulating economic stimulus policies.

The urgent matter that the government must swiftly address is driving the economy to its full potential, particularly expediting budget disbursements to every ministry.

From the perspective of the Chamber of Commerce, assisting SMEs in accessing capital, accelerating trade cooperation between countries, and attracting investments are crucial. Additionally, it is imperative to clarify the development scope of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), bolstered by tourism a key driver to propel the Thai economy forward during this period. These are matters that should be expedited, Sanan added.

Source: The Nation