PM blames budget for failings

PM blames budget for failings

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin defended his government's performance after senators claimed in a general debate on Monday that the Pheu Thai-led coalition has not made significant progress in realising their campaign promises over the past seven months.

Mr Srettha, who is also finance minister, admitted that the delay in approving the 2024 budget meant the government has had to delay the implementation of some of its core policies -- especially those relating to economic stimulus packages, which require a lot of funding.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin

"The [budget] bill was only passed last week, and it will take about another month before the budget is disbursed," he said.

He went on to say that he wasn't entirely satisfied with his performance, as well as the cabinet's performance, saying there is always room for improvement.

Responding to criticism of his frequent overseas travel, Mr Srettha said he believed it was customary for a new prime minister to pay a courtesy visit to other countries after assuming office. He said the trips weren't a waste of time and money, as they have resulted in significant investments for Thailand, noting foreign investors have committed to investing over 100 billion baht in Thailand over the past several months.

The details will be made public by the Thailand Trade Representative and the Board of Investment later on Tuesday, he said.

During the debate, Senator Seree Suwanpanont criticised Mr Srettha for positioning himself as a salesman searching for new trade and investment opportunities for the country, saying the PM should be acting as the country's CEO, not a salesman.

The only achievement the government has made so far is helping a convict avoid serving his jail term, said Mr Seree, in an apparent reference to the privileges accorded to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Senator Somchai Sawangkarn, meanwhile, said a petition will soon be lodged with the Constitutional Court to ask it to rule on whether Mr Srettha had violated the constitution by helping Thaksin secure parole in an unfair manner.

The Administrative Court will also be asked to rule on whether permission to stay at the Police General Hospital for more than 120 days that was granted to Thaksin following his sentencing was illegitimate, said the senator.

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