Pattaya Daily News

01 March 2007 :: 00:03:32 am 29683

Thai Finance Minister Calls It Quits

BANGKOK, Feb 28 – Thailand‘s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula announced his resignation Wednesday, saying he was upset by the government‘s earlier invitation of a leading former minister in the previous government to work and an unnamed ministers‘ apparent favouritism towards certain media.
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Pridiyathorn said he had submitted his resignation, effective March 1, to Prime Minister Surayud Chalanont Wednesday morning, and that it was accepted.

The former Bank of Thailand governor said he resigned because the current government had appointed the economic architect of the previous government to clarify the sufficiency economy philosophy.

In Thai fashion he did not name the person but he clearly meant ex-Thaksin Shinawatra deputy prime minister and finance minister Somkid Jatusripitak, who resigned less than one week after having been appointed.

Pridiyathorn said he saw the reason given for the appointment as an excuse and an attempt to cover up a “hidden agenda”.

It was earlier reported that Pridiyathorn objected to the decision to have former Thaksin aide Somkid Jatusripitak tasked with explaining the sufficiency economy philosophy abroad.

Dr. Somkid is a key architect of the so-called populist policy adopted by the deposed Thaksin Shinawatra government and a strong supporter of Thaksinomics.

Pridiyathorn added he viewed “a certain minister” of the present government with Thaksin-connections and as working in favour of certain media, which could lead to a violation of the law.

While not naming the minister, it was understood that he meant Prime Minister’s Office minister Thirapat Serirangsan who could be viewed as favouring high-profile Thaksin-critic Sondhi Limthongkul and his Manager Media Group, which has recently been given access to state-owned media.

Giving these reasons, Mr. Pridiyathorn said he resigned Wednesday with effect from Thursday.

Pridiyathorn resigned as Bank of Thailand governor to assume the deputy prime minister and finance minister posts on October 8, following the September 19 coup.

He was himself seen as a strong candidate for interim prime minister, but was eventually appointed as deputy premier and finance minister, with strong admiration and support of the general public and business community.

However, his popularity declined rapidly and was sharply criticised for the amendment to the Foreign Business Act, the imposition of a 30 per cent reserve requirement, and amending the Government Lottery Act.

The imposition of capital controls in December aimed to stem the appreciation of the baht, but resulted in the largest one-day loss in the Thai stock market’s 31-year history December 19. In January, the Cabinet approved in principle amendments to the 1999 Foreign Business Act limiting foreign investors to holding no more than 50 per cent of shares or voting rights in Thai companies. The move upset many foreign investors who perceive the post-coup interim government as turning to protectionism.

Mr. Pridiyathorn is the first cabinet member of the military-installed interim government to resign, a move seen as a heavy blow to the government, especially to Gen. Surayud himself. Filling the high-profile post as head of the government’s economic team supervising the national economy is a challenge for a government seen as becalmed in its five-month doldrums.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Politics News

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