PM denies Arkhom buzz

PM denies Arkhom buzz

Pick for finance minister goes to HM

Arkhom Termpittayapaisith
Arkhom Termpittayapaisith

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Friday dismissed speculation that former transport minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith would be made the new finance minister.

He has submitted the name of the new minister, he said, without disclosing who the person is.

When asked by reporters if the new minister would be Mr Arkhom, the PM refused to divulge details, saying the next appointee must carry out the work of the Finance Ministry. "I am not talking about Mr Arkhom," Gen Prayut said. "I am talking about [someone] who will take the post."

Gen Prayut also denied reports saying Rangsan Srivorasart, former permanent secretary for finance, is another nominee for the finance portfolio.

A finance minister is needed to fill the seat left vacant by Predee Daochai who resigned as minister after spending less than a month at the job. Mr Predee made the announcement on Sept 1, citing health problems. His resignation took effect the following day.

According to media reports, Mr Predee, former president of Kasikornbank, disagreed with his deputy, Santi Promphat of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), over the reshuffle of high-ranking officials in the Ministry of Finance, particularly about who should head the ministry's Excise Department.

Meanwhile, Gen Prayut yesterday admitted the handing out of relief packages to those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic has been slow as it takes time to screen more than 50,000 relief projects proposed by state agencies.

Speaking after chairing a meeting of the Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Committee, the PM said the government has to prioritise budget spending while also finding ways to boost state revenue and increase the employment rate.

The 50,000 projects referred to a 400-billion-baht socioeconomic scheme to create jobs, strengthen communities and building infrastructure.

"We are finding ways to manage the budget to ensure transparency," Gen Prayut said. "Therefore, it may have to be slow. Screening must be done from the initial level by provincial committees."

The National Economic and Social Development Council is responsible for screening proposed projects under the scheme.

However, critics have cried foul over several of the proposed projects, saying they appear to be routine procurement initiatives and have nothing to do with job creation.

In other news, Pornchai Thiraveja, deputy spokesman for the Finance Ministry, said yesterday more than 160,000 shop owners registered on Thursday to take part in the government's co-payment scheme for businesses affected by Covid-19. Thursday was the first day of registration.

On Sept 29, the cabinet approved a plan for the government to offer co-payments of up to 3,000 baht per person to 10 million consumers for three months.

The co-payment scheme, which will be implemented from Oct 23 to Dec 31, is intended for Thai citizens aged 18 and above. Individuals need to sign up on its website (www.คนละครึ่ง.com) starting on Oct 16.

The programme will subsidise half of the price of products listed on the website, government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri told the media at a briefing last Tuesday.

The co-payment project does not apply to government lottery tickets, alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and services, he said.

The maximum amount from the government will be limited to 150 baht per day and 3,000 baht per person throughout the period, he said, adding the money will be transferred to the participants' electronic wallets.

The scheme will cost the state about 30 billion baht, and about 100,000 small shops run would benefit from it, Mr Anucha said.

In addition to the co-payment plan, the cabinet last Tuesday also gave the nod to a proposal to add another 1,500 baht to the monthly living allowance of 13.94 million state welfare cards holders.

Kanchana Tangpakon, a director of the Fiscal Policy Office, said the 1,500 baht living allowance will be paid in three instalments of 500 baht a month from October until December.

The 1,500 baht is intended for buying consumer goods from the government's Thong Fa (Blue flag) shops across the country.

The latest cash splurge would add another 60 billion baht into the country's economy and is estimated to help lift gross domestic product (GDP) by 0.18%, Ms Kanchana said.

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