Nothing special here

Nothing special here

The economy is facing many challenges resulting from worsening global economic conditions.

To handle the situation, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha last week signed an order to set up another committee. The latest one — termed a special committee — is meant to help steer government efforts in mitigating impacts of the economic crisis.

The special committee comprises five deputy prime ministers and five ministers of the finance, agriculture, transport, industry and interior ministries. In addition, permanent secretaries from seven ministries, the governor of the Bank of Thailand, the secretary general of the National Economic and Social Development Council and secretary general of the National Security Council (NSC) are also members of the committee. Gen Prayut heads the committee himself.

According to Gen Prayut, the committee will be like the economic cabinet. It will gather information from affected parties and propose solutions to the cabinet for making decisions.

Many are wondering why Gen Prayut has set up this committee, whose role is the same as the economic ministerial committee and which comprises the same old faces in his cabinet. All other members of the special committee are heads of state agencies who have already worked with the government.

The prime minister can order his deputy ministers and ministers as well as those state agencies to handle economic problems without his having to form a special committee.

The formation of the committee took place while the government was undergoing a censure debate for failing to handle economic problems, particularly soaring goods prices and inflation.

Part of the opposition’s critique was that the special committee was a mere facade put up by the government amid widespread hardship in the country.

More than reflecting the government’s problems in dealing with global economic challenges, the newly established economic panel further highlights the prime minister’s troubles in controlling his own economic ministers.

Five key ministries oversee matters directly relevant to the current economic situation: Finance, Energy, Transport, Tourism and Sports, and Commerce.

Unfortunately, those ministries are controlled by different coalition parties, with the Palang Pracharath (PPRP) overseeing the Finance and Energy ministries; Bhumjaithai Party (BJP) in charge of Transport and Tourism and Sports; and the Democrats running the Commerce Ministry (in addition to the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry).

Normally, a deputy prime minister from a ruling party will be appointed as head of the government’s economic ministerial team.

Since leaders of key coalition parties in the Prayut government — BJP and Democrat — are also deputy prime ministers, a result is that any deputy premier from the PPRP cannot play a leading role among economic ministers.

Gen Prayut previously announced that as the prime minister under “a new normal way” of doing things, he would lead the government’s economic ministerial team himself.

However, he has apparently failed to ensure harmony among his own economic ministerial team.

Such failure casts serious doubts on how another special committee is going to help steer the country through the current global economic storm.