Prayut sings praises of new finance minister

Prayut sings praises of new finance minister

Arkhom a 'good fit' for key finance post

Arkom Termpittayapaisith is the new finance minister. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Arkom Termpittayapaisith is the new finance minister. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, who will be sworn in as finance minister on Oct 11, is a strong hand with a proven track record who can also work in sync with politicians, says Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Gen Prayut admitted on Tuesday he had kept Mr Arkhom's name under wraps for some time even though the media had previously reported that Mr Arkhom had been picked for the finance role.

The prime minister said he could not disclose his choice for the new finance minister until after the appointment process was completed.

He was understood to refer to Mr Arkhom's appointment having been royally endorsed and formally published in the Royal Gazette.

There is one more step to perform and that is for Mr Arkhom to be sworn in, which will take place on Sunday.

Mr Arkhom will begin work the following day, said Gen Prayut.

The premier insisted Mr Arkhom was well-suited for the finance minister role as he has strong leadership skills and is decisive. "He comes in at the right time and he knows what to do," Gen Prayut said.

Mr Arkhom previously served as transport minister under the leadership of Gen Prayut who was at the time chief of the National Council for Peace and Order, the military body, now dissolved, that engineered the coup.

Gen Prayut said he had approached several people to become finance minister, but they all declined the invitation except for Mr Arkhom.

The prime minister added Mr Arkhom has also shown he is able to work with politicians. His appointment ended a month-long vacancy hiatus resulting from the sudden resignation of his predecessor, Predee Daochai.

Mr Predee stepped down on Sept 1, shortly after taking office, citing health issues. Other candidates for the finance portfolio were then-finance permanent secretary Prasong Poontaneat, and Krairit Euchukanonchai, who is the board chairman of PTT Plc and the state-run Krungthai Bank.

Gen Prayut said people should focus on the new finance minister's performance. In reality, the minister does not have the sweeping authority to approve what he pleases.

"Everything is put to the cabinet for consideration after it has been vetted by a committee, the Budget Bureau and the National and Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC).

"Only after projects have been reviewed by these agencies can the budget be disbursed," he said.

Mr Arkhom, 64, used to be the NESDC secretary-general.

Meanwhile, Deputy Finance Minister Santi Promphat said he has no problem working under Mr Arkhom, who he believes will run the Finance Ministry with decisiveness.

Mr Santi denied media reports that he may be the reason for Mr Predee bowing out less than a month after becoming finance minister.

According to the reports, Mr Predee, former president of Kasikornbank, disagreed with Mr Santi, who is director 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.

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