Somkid Jatusripitak will take the helm as the main figure to drive the country’s sagging economy in a new cabinet line-up announced on Thursday.
The member and chief economic adviser to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) will take over the economic affairs from outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula.
In the new line-up endorsed by His Majesty the King and published in the Royal Gazette on Thursday, 15 keep the same seats, 11 are newcomers, 11 left, and nine change offices. No military members were out and two more were added, bringing the total number of military ministers to 15 including the prime minister.
The announcement will take effect after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha leads them to take an oath before His Majesty.
The highlight is at the economic ministerial positions previously supervised by MR Pridiyathorn and are now commanded by Mr Somkid. Change was on all key economic ministries including the Commerce and Finance ministries. (See graphic below)
Gen Prayut said on Wednesday before the announcement that the change at ministries responsible for the economy was a “rotation”.
All Prayut 2 cabinet ministers not included in the new line-up will be invited to be his advisers, he added.
MR Pridiyathorn said on Wednesday that the prime minister did not inform any minister in person about the plan and added he was ready to leave the post. “I will work until the very last minute,’’ he said.
Before the new list was announced on Thursday, he told reporters that he had worked with inconveniences and felt annoyed because advisers were trying to find fault with him.
MR Pridiyathorn also said that he would not accept the position of an adviser to the prime minister.
Gen Prayut said later it did not matter since the remaining former ministers had accepted the advisory positions.
He also pointed out MR Pridiyathorn was already an adviser to the NCPO.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said earlier the reshuffle aimed to appease all sides. "I've made the changes. The new ministers must prove their worth or face criticism."
He added those who became his new deputies would figure out the directions since they were well aware of what had been done.
The premier was referring to the military members of the cabinet — former transport minister ACM Prajin Juntong and ex-education minister Adm Narong Pipatanasai.
Asked why there were two ministers with the same family name — Gen Surasak (natural resources and environment minister) and Gen Anantaporn Kanchanarat (energy minister), Gen Prayut explained they were related but not from the same family.
He added the joint meeting between the cabinet and the NCPO would continue like before.
"Please have confidence in us. Nothing's too hard or too easy. To strengthen the country, we must grow and be 'stronger together'. This is our home, our country, so let's get rid of all dangers and look after it together."
Gen Prayut officially took office on Aug 24 last year after leading the coup to oust the government.
Bangkok Poll results released on Wednesday showed the popularity of the government slightly declined to a score of 5.94 from 6.20 in the previous survey conducted six months ago. The popularity of the prime minister was also down to 7.11 from 7.26.
The poll by Bangkok University asked 1,053 people aged 18 or more across the country to rate the cabinet and the prime minister out of the full score of 10. It did not say when the survey was undertaken.