Palang Pracharath says Prayut will make decision on new finance minister

Palang Pracharath says Prayut will make decision on new finance minister

Deputy minister Santi says ready for the post

Deputy Finance Minister Santi Prompat denies a rift with former finance minister Predee Daochai, and claims his experience at the Finance Ministry qualifies him to take over the prime portfolio. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Deputy Finance Minister Santi Prompat denies a rift with former finance minister Predee Daochai, and claims his experience at the Finance Ministry qualifies him to take over the prime portfolio. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Palang Pracharath will not interfere in the choice of the new finance minister, which will be decided by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, party leader Prawit Wongsuwon said on Wednesday.

However, with the prime minister expected to make a quick decision, party stalwart and Deputy Finance Minister Santi Prompat has already thrown his hat in the ring, saying he was ready for the promotion.

Gen Prawit, who is a deputy prime minister, said Palang Pracharath would leave the decision on who would be the new finance minister to the prime minister. He also denied reports that a rift between Mr Santi and Predee Daochai had led to the abrupt resignation of the finance minister.

Mr Predee cited health problems in a shock announcement on Tuesday that he was resigning from the portfolio after less than a month in the job, effective immediately.

Mr Predee and Mr Santi were locked in disagreement over the appointment of a new Excise Department director-general. They favoured different candidates. The choice finally went to Fiscal Policy Office director Lavaron Sangsnit, who was nominated by Mr Predee. Mr Santi preferred State Enterprise Policy Office director Prapas Kong-Ied.

Gen Prawit and Mr Santi on Wednesday denied the conflict over the appointment had led to the sudden departure of Mr Predee, insisting that health concerns were the reason he stepped down.

Mr Predee was hand-picked for the finance portfolio by the prime minister in a cabinet reshuffle fuelled by a revolt in Palang Pracharath that drove then-deputy prime minister Somkid Jatusripitak, then-finance minister Uttama Savanayana and then-energy minister Sontirat Sontijirawong out of the cabinet.

Mr Uttama was forced to resign the party leadership, making way for Gen Prawit to take over.

Palang Pracharath members argued that the cabinet quotas left vacant by the departures, including the finance ministry portfolio, should be returned to the party. But Gen Prayut opted for the outsiders, including replacing Mr Somkid with Supattanapong Punmeechaow.

Although Palang Pracharath has conceded the prime minister sole authority to find and appoint a new finance minister, Mr Santi said on Wednesday he stood ready for promotion if Gen Prayut gave him the opportunity.

He cited his experience at the ministry as an asset in taking over finance  policy for the government.

Mr Santi served as both transport, and social development and human security minister with the Pheu Thai Party before he defected to Palang Pracharath.

The topic of the next finance minister was on the agenda of a meeting of the Centre for Economic Situation Administration on Wednesday.


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