Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Thursday led his fifth Cabinet to take the oath of office before King Rama X at the Amphorn Satharn Villa in the Dusit Palace.
They arrived at Government House in the afternoon for their identity and group photos before travelling together to the palace in the evening. Some ministers vowed to start working on their first day in office on Friday with a determination to pursue government policies, while others said they would outline their priorities.
The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry is under the spotlight because of changes in personnel. Prayut had said earlier he wished to see them steer his “phase two” work, referring to changes in farm foundations started by former Agriculture Minister Chatchai Sarikulya, who is now the deputy PM.
The new Deputy Agricultural Minister, Luck Wajananawat, a noted banker for the poor, said he had not yet spoken to the new minister, Krisada Boonrat. He said, however, that government policy was clear in its intention to help farmers amid plunging farm prices, and listening to their plight is a priority.
New Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said his ministry would from now on work more closely with the Agriculture Ministry, besides pursuing the economic policies initiated by the government’s economic team led by Deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak.
The new Cabinet reshuffle, the fourth under Prayut, took place ahead of elections scheduled for late next year. Some political observers see it as an attempt to boost the popularity of the government among people as there is speculation the junta may seek a political role in the future.
Prayut said on Tuesday during the mobile Cabinet meeting in the South that his ministerial reshuffle was aimed at bringing in new faces to help boost the government’s image.
“The purpose of reshuffling the Cabinet is that I want new faces to make people realise that there is a change. People should then realise and acknowledge that there has been a [genuine] reshuffle,” he said.