Key ministers play down reshuffle rumours

Key ministers play down reshuffle rumours

Cabinet members pose at Government House on Sept 5, 2023. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)
Cabinet members pose at Government House on Sept 5, 2023. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

Three prominent cabinet ministers have dismissed speculation they may be the target of a reshuffle possibly being implemented after the budget expenditure bill is passed in early April.

The three ministers are Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai, Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang and Agriculture Minister Capt Thamanat Prompow.

Speculation was rife that the time was near for a shake-up of cabinet members who took office on Sept 1 last year.

Mr Phumtham hinted on Feb 28 that a reshuffle may be in the cards after the national budget expenditure bill clears parliament in early April.

"Once the budget kicks in, how well [cabinet ministers] have performed will be appraised by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, who can also order a reshuffle if necessary," the deputy premier said.

On Thursday, Mr Sutin said rumours about a pending reshuffle have swirled for some time. However, this was pure speculation.

"There have been neither positive nor negative signals for a reshuffle. I've only picked up signals of encouragement for me to continue in the defence portfolio," he said.

He agreed with Mr Phumtham's remark that an individual minister's performance will decide if they should be moved to another ministerial post or removed from the cabinet altogether.

Earlier, Mr Phumtham insisted he would refuse to budge in the event of a reshuffle.

Vowing to stay put at the Commerce Ministry, Mr Phumtham said the prime minister has indicated he was satisfied with his work. "All the cabinet ministers have worked very hard in their jobs," Mr Phumtham added.

The deputy prime minister said any shake-up issues would become clearer after the budget expenditure bill business is over and done with.

In the past six months in office, the government has not been able to press ahead with investments as the budget bill has not been passed into law.

As head of the House committee on budget, Mr Phumtham said he expects the bill to be enacted at least 15 days sooner than planned.

The timetable for enactment of the law has been brought forward from May to early April.

Mr Phumtham added he had not heard anything about a cabinet reshuffle from the prime minister despite being the latter's close aide.

Also on Thursday, Capt Thamanat said he has not been informed or heard about a reshuffle. "It's up to the prime minister to decide," he said.

Meanwhile, deputy government spokesman Karom Polpornklang has outlined the timetable for deliberating and enacting the budget expenditure bill.

He said the bill is scheduled to be voted on in the second and third readings in the House of Representatives from March 20 to 21 instead of from April 3 to 4 as originally planned.

After that, the bill will be tabled to the Senate for deliberation from March 25 to 26 instead of from April 9 to 10.

In the final process, the Cabinet Secretariat Office will present the bill for royal endorsement on April 3 instead of April 17, which marks its enactment into law.

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