Decree not a ruse to stay in power:PM
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is not maintaining the emergency decree for the purpose of protecting his own power, said government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat.
She dismissed opposition claims the premier refused to cancel the decree, invoked to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, so he could retain sweeping powers under the special law. "This is certainly not a stalling tactic," she said.
The opposition said the decree has sent the economy into a downward spiral for months and that people are suffering increasing hardship.
Ms Narumon said the government is well aware of the economic problems and is working to solve them. "We're providing assistance to everyone," she said.
The decree must stay in place for now because the government needs to maintain the momentum of its virus containment measures. "The amount of daily infections fluctuates from none one day to several the next, so the government cannot afford to be complacent," she said.
The government has to know that infections have stabilised and people are cooperating with Covid-19 control measures before cancelling the decree. "We have to protect people's lives, first and foremost," she said.
Covid-19 restrictions have been eased in two phases, the latest of which includes the reopening of department stores nationwide, with regulated visits allowed starting yesterday.
Meanwhile, Phumtham Wechayachai, adviser to opposition leader Sompong Amornwiwat, said Thailand has been able to control the spread of the virus well despite the economy taking a severe battering.
He said scenes in which people were seen queuing up to get their 5,000-baht monthly handout from the government speaks volumes about the critical condition of the economy.
Mr Phumtham added the economy will go into a deeper nosedive if the decree is kept to combat the disease. The government should lift the decree immediately because it has the Disease Control Act at its disposal to deal with the pandemic, he said.
Mr Phumtham said the government also has to respond to claims the decree is being used to prevent the staging of mass protests by those disgruntled by its handling of political and economic affairs.
"As the powers under the decree is centralised with the prime minister, it will be counter-productive to the economic recovery process and compound the already difficult lives the people are living," he said.
Meanwhile, the three decrees which form the basis of the government's unprecedented 1.9 trillion baht economic stimulus scheme will be tabled for debate in parliament between May 27-29, said government whip Akkradet Wongpitakroj.