Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha says he will serve his full term as prime minister, ending speculation he may dissolve the House and call a fresh election before his term ends in 2023.
The premier told the Senate on Monday during the debate on the executive decree on the borrowing of another 500 billion baht to deal with Covid-19 that all criticism against him only served to bolster his resolve.
“Throughout the seven years I’ve served, there is no corruption. Not a single baht reaches me. I’ve worked in a democratic system with an elected government. How much more democracy do you need? Should everyone be able to insult anyone? Should one disrespect his parents? Should pupils criticise their teachers freely?” he asked.
Discussing swelling public debt teetering on breaching the limit, Gen Prayut said the government should not be blamed.
“We have to ask ourselves whether it is necessary...what the level was before I came. Did I singlehandedly create these debts?” he asked.
Public debt stood at 8.5 trillion baht, or 54.3% of gross domestic product, as of March 31 this year. The 2018 State Finance and Fiscal Discipline Act caps public debt at 60% of GDP. While the borrowing will bring it to around 58.6% of GDP, the slugglish economy means GDP this year will likely be very low, further increasing the proportion and making it necessary to eventually extend the ceiling.
Discussing the controversial management of the Covid-19 vaccines, Gen Prayut said he had instructed the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to settle their differences.
He was referring to a perceived row between the two bodies during the weekend.
It began when several Bangkok hospitals had cancelled their vaccination appointments, citing inadequate vaccine supplies, on late Saturday.
Public anger was first directed at the Public Health Ministry, but minister Anutin Charnvirakul later explained it had already delivered the allotment for the capital in numbers previously decided by the CCSA, which has the sole authority of deciding who gets how much.
Mr Anutin blamed it on the BMA, who he said was responsible for redistributing the allotment to vaccination stations.
He insisted his ministry simply delivered the lot to City Hall, who had to manage the supply to make sure it lasts until the next allotment is sent.
As it turned out, the BMA had administered almost all of its supply. In its defence, City Hall said it had no control over the number of shots registered through Mor Prom, the ministry’s app which allowed people nationwide to make appointments.
Since so many people had chosen to get the shots in Bangkok in the past few days, it had no choice but to give them.
After the debate, senators voted 205-0 to approve the decree, with two abstentions.