Pheu Thai eyes economic posts
Prommin touts 'three-step ladder' plan, write Chairith Yonpiam and Aekarach Sattaburuth
published : 27 Mar 2023 at 04:30
newspaper section: News
The Pheu Thai Party has vowed to take charge of all ministries that handle economic affairs to carry out its campaign policies if it is elected to lead the government after the next election.
The party has also reiterated its goals, including achieving a majority in the House of Representatives, turning the economy around and amending the constitution.
Prommin Lertsuridej, head of Pheu Thai's economic affairs committee, told the Bangkok Post he is confident the party will emerge triumphant at the election on May 14.
"We are confident we will win and can form a government. Everything depends on the will of the people.
"If they want change, so be it. If Pheu Thai wins and forms a government, we need to be sure our policy pledges produce tangible results within six months," said Dr Prommin, a former executive of the now-defunct Thai Rak Thai Party.
He said if Pheu Thai achieves a landslide victory and is key driver in the formation of a government, ministers in charge of major ministries handling economic affairs must come only from Pheu Thai to ensure the party can meet its election pledges.
"We must oversee all key ministries such as the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society," Dr Prommin said.
Dr Prommin was regarded as one of the right-hand men of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra when he established Thai Rak Thai in the early 2000s.
During the Thaksin administration, Dr Prommin was the prime minister's secretary-general and also served as a deputy prime minister and energy minister.
If Pheu Thai can form a government after the election and Paetongtarn Shinawatra, Thaksin's youngest daughter, is prime minister, Dr Prommin could serve as PM's secretary-general once again or even a deputy prime minister, a source said.
Ms Paetongtarn is widely speculated to be among Pheu Thai's prime ministerial candidates.
Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew said previously the party has set the bar higher and is now targeting at least 310 House seats -- up from 250 -- to form a single-party government after the election.
Dr Prommin said this is the party's strategy to restore democracy in a peaceful manner.
"The people need a major party that can establish a solid foothold [in parliament] so it will not end up as a minority government.
"Initially, we targeted 250 seats, though we may have trouble seeking the support of senators. So, we had to raise the target," Dr Prommin said.
After the 2019 election, he said, Pheu Thai gathered the support of 255 MPs from among political allies to form a government.
But its attempt failed as a result of yellow or red cards being issued by the Election Commission to candidates and poll winners who violated poll regulations while some party MPs also defected to other parties.
"We have learned a major lesson," Dr Prommin said.
In light of this, Pheu Thai needs to secure more than 250 House seats to form a government, and the next step is to ease the economic hardship faced by the people.
The ultimate move is to gather majority support from the House to establish a constitution drafting assembly to amend the constitution, Dr Prommin said.
"This is a three-step plan," he said, adding the party will also bring other parties with similar goals into a coalition.
He also cited the results of recent polls that suggested Pheu Thai's popularity was rising.
Asked if some factors could deal a blow to the party's popularity ahead of the election, Dr Prommin said the party has come up with measures to prevent potential incidents that could lead to complaints seeking the party's dissolution.
"If a majority of voters support us, we hope the senators will not resist the mandate of the people," Dr Prommin added.
"I think that conservative groups will do everything they can to stop us such as spreading rumours that the party will ultimately bring Thaksin back home," Dr Prommin said. "That is not our goal."
Dr Prommin said Pheu Thai has gathered input from people and come up with policies aimed at addressing their problems.
The party plans to increase people's income, reduce costs and expand opportunities with the aim of boosting the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) to at least 5% annually.
One policy involves setting up new business zones in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen and Songkhla's Hat Yai district to attract foreign investment.
The provinces are well-equipped with infrastructure, such as airports and road networks as well as major universities that nurture talent and support innovation.
The provinces also serve as gathering venues for digital startups, Dr Prommin said, adding this policy will boost the digital economy and improve workers' digital skills.
Under the policy, laws and regulations that hamper the business process will be revised to make it easier for investors to do business.
Another policy is to revitalise the tourism sector as measures will be rolled out to attract 60 million foreign tourists annually, which is expected to generate about 3 trillion baht in revenue over the next four years, compared to 2 trillion baht in 2019 before Covid-19 hit the country.
If elected to lead the government, the party would also revise regulations to ease travel, including visa-free entry, he said.
Another policy is to strengthen the agricultural sector and triple farmers' incomes within four years as modern farming concepts, such as precision agriculture and innovation and technology, including artificial intelligence, will be introduced to boost farmers' income and reduce costs.
The government will look for markets for their produce and encourage farmers to grow crops that meet market demand, he said.
"If farmer incomes triple within four years, we will have more than 2.8 trillion baht circulating in the system, which in turn will boost other industries.
"When people can sell more goods, employment will increase and the government can collect more taxes, giving a boost to the overall economy," Dr Prommin said.
The Pheu Thai Party is also planning to roll out a digital wallet for Thais aged 16 years and older, through which citizens can access state subsidies and allowances.
Under the policy, digital money could be spent at community shops within a 4-kilometre radius of applicants' homes and would be valid for six months.
Eligible vendors will also be able to exchange the digital money for cash at state banks.
This policy will help stimulate the local economy and boost cash flows in communities, he said, adding that another policy will also offer financial aid to families that earn a monthly income of 20,000 baht or less.
Dr Prommin insisted that these policies are not populist ones, but they are meant to boost people's purchasing power and encourage spending.
Another policy will promote blockchain technology to turn Thailand into an Asean financial technology centre, he said.