Kittiratt hits back at Pridiyathorn

Former finance minister Pridiyathorn Devakula's call for the government to resign its caretaker role was no different from the "undemocratic" demands of anti-government protesters' and his comments on different economic policies of the government were nothing new, caretaker Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said in an open letter to Mom Rajawongse (MR) Pridiyathorn.

MR Pridiyathorn on Thursday morning issued an open letter to caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinwatra, urging her to resign because her 'failed government' could no longer administer the country. He also criticised the government's rice-pledging scheme, the solar rooftops project and its effort to set up a reform assembly.

"What MR Pridiyathorn suggested in connection with economic, social and political issues was not new," Mr Kittiratt said. "As a former deputy premier and economic minister who implemented capital controls which resulted in a stock market plunge, he should've known that this government has already returned power to the people."

He said MR Pridiyathorn's call for Ms Yingluck to resign to allow "neutral people" to run and reform the country is clearly neglecting the democratic system.

MR Pridiyathorn Devakula, left, and Kittiratt Na-Ranong (Photo by Pattarachai Preechapanich)

MR Pridiyathorn did not take into account that this government has to stay in power to make foreign countries confident in Thailand's political system and that all people are equal under the democratic regime, he said.

He said the government was able to pay rice growers who participated in the rice mortgage scheme without any delay over the past two years. However, he said, the current political situation had prevented the government from paying the farmers on time.

The impediments included demonstrators laying siege to the Finance Ministry and the Budget Bureau, the resignation of all Democrat Party MPs which led to a House dissolution, and the threats received by the financial and state sectors, he said.

On the government's solar rooftops project, Mr Kittiratt said MR Pridiyathorn should have known better that certain policies involving many agencies will likely encounter problems and the former finance minister should have seen this type of situation before.

The government had been trying to work out the problems concerning the solar rooftops project, but it took time due to many legal issues, he said.

In MR Pridiyathorn's open letter to Ms Yingluck, he said the caretaker government had failed to accomplish many important tasks since Ms Yingluck announced the dissolution of the House of Representatives on Dec 9, 2013.

One of the clear examples is the rice-pledging policy, as the administration has not been able to pay farmers for the rice they sold and their suffering has become widespread. Experts from the private sector had provided information showing that the losses from the scheme could soar to several hundred billion baht and that it is also vulnerable to corruption.

The Energy Ministry's solar rooftops project is another example highlighting the government's "inability to manage simple projects and policies", he said.

The project was launched so the private sector could generate solar power for sale to electricity authorities, but then the Industry Ministry ruled that small-scale producers must obtain an operating licence before they can produce electricity for sale, disrupting the project. This showed the government's "inability to iron out a simple inter-agency conflict".

According to the former governor of the Bank of Thailand, a large group of people and business organisations lack faith, trust and confidence in the government.

When Ms Yingluck told the mass media that a Prime Minister's Order would be issued to enable the public to select representatives from various professions to participate in a reform assembly, in an attempt to address the demands of anti-government protesters calling for a "people's council" to pave way for national reform, no private sector organisations responded.

"This crisis of confidence, which you and your government are facing, stems from your failure to run the country properly. It is because you have ignored the country’s problems for too long.

"You have neglected the tackling of corruption. You do not try to prevent cases of graft that have already occurred from recurring," the man who was appointed minister of finance during the 2006-2007 interim coup government said.

The Feb 2 general election had proven to be problematic after anti-government protestors, who do not want the Pheu Thai Party to run the country, succeeded in obstructing the polls in various ways. With the election incomplete, the House of Representatives would be short of a quorum as the minimum requirement of MPs is 475 of the 500 seats (95%).

Consequently, the election is at risk of being nullified by the Constitution Court or the Administrative Court, he said.

The country's governance would remain unclear, the protest would likely intensify, and there would be more damage to the economy and tourism should this failed government continue in its caretaker capacity, he said.

The country cannot be run or move forward under a failed government, MR Pridiyathorn said. To ease the situation, he urged the government to resign from its caretaker role, adding that the constitution provides a way for the appointment of outsiders to run the country on an interim basis.

He said the interim government would comprise "neutral people" who were well recognised by the public. The new administration would be capable of bringing in representatives from different sectors to cooperate on how to effectively reform the country.

"If your government truly holds the country's interests at heart and decides to resign from its caretaker role, the protesters will end their rallies.

"A good leader has to put the country first when the time arrives. I hope that my open letter will help you make a proper decision to stop the ongoing damage for the sake of the country and its people," MR Pridiyathorn concluded.

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