FTI chairman race heats up

FTI chairman race heats up

Mr Somphote says applying for the FTI chairman gives him an opportunity to propose new ideas that may become more impactful.
Mr Somphote says applying for the FTI chairman gives him an opportunity to propose new ideas that may become more impactful.

The competition for the chairman post of Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) has intensified as vice-chairman Somphote Ahunai, chief executive of Energy Absolute, a renewable energy and electric vehicle developer, announced his candidacy at the group with more than 15,000 members nationwide.

Incumbent chairman Kriengkrai Thiennukul, whose term expires in April, is expected to prefer staying on for a second term.

Under FTI regulations, members elected as chairman can stay in the position for two terms, each of which last two years.

During a press conference, Mr Somphote did not clarify why he is refusing to wait for Mr Kriengkrai to serve out a second term before applying for the post, which is normal practice.

The election for FTI chairman is scheduled for March 25 to the end of April.

"To become the 17th chairman of the FTI would follow my ideology to serve the nation," said Mr Somphote.

Thailand has faced many economic problems over the past six years and the country needs appropriate solutions through closer collaboration between the state and private sectors, he said.

Among those problems are high household and public debt. Last year, Thai household debt exceeded 90% of the nation's GDP, while public debt was at 61% of GDP.

If the debt issues are not solved, it will be a factor that erodes the domestic economy, said Mr Somphote.

Two issues he said he wants to address are the country's huge surplus of electricity generation capacity in reserve, which incurs more costs in the power sector, leading to expensive power bills, as well as the impact of dumping cheap steel from China into Thailand, which affects local steel manufacturers.

"Applying for FTI chairman gives me an opportunity to propose new ideas that may become more impactful," said Mr Somphote.

In a separate interview with the Bangkok Post, he said some FTI members encouraged him to apply for the post, but he declined to name them.

Working as FTI chairman would not limit his role to the renewable power sector, as he has to work with and support various industries across the federation, said Mr Somphote.

"I will coordinate with all groups, seek cooperative solutions and tell the government the FTI's views," he said.

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