May 22, 2014 00:00 By PETCHANET PRATRUANGKRAI, KWAN
THE BOARD of Trade of Thailand believes it would be acceptable to have an interim government with full authority to administrate the Kingdom, as such a development would mean that economic growth could be driven forward again.
Meanwhile, foreign investors accept the notion of an appointed prime minister, but stress that Thailand has to set a clear date for holding the next general election soon, besides achieving both political and economic reform to prevent future problems arising.
In response to the latest developments in the political situation, the Board of Trade yesterday held |an urgent meeting among its members, with the aim of reaching agreement for the sake of the country.
Chairman Isara Vongkusolkit said private enterprises hoped the country would have a fully authorised government in place soon, following the military’s declaration of martial law, so that economic growth could once again be driven forward after being interrupted by the political turmoil for more than half a year.
“Martial law is not a coup; it should create a positive outcome. However, the Act should be enforced for a limited time of no more than three or four months, that is, no later than September; otherwise, it could affect investors’ and traders’ confidence,” he said.
In its statement, the Board of Trade said its members believed that martial law would help prevent further violence and restore peace to the country. The membership wants Thailand to have a new, authorised government, it said. However, when asked whether the next prime minister should be elected or nominated, Isara declined to answer, saying only that if the new government had full authority to administrate the country, it should be acceptable.
The Board of Trade will soon meet with the Federation of the Thai Industries and the Thai Bankers Association in the Joint Private Standing Committee to assess the political situation following the imposition of martial law.
Nandor von der Luehe, former chairman of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce, said that whether Thailand had an appointed or an elected prime minister was less important than the need for a new government to have full authority to administrate the country.
A priority issue among foreign investors is that the Kingdom should also have political and economic reform as soon as possible, in order to ensure that the country does not run into a renewed cycle of political conflict in the future, he said.
Von der Luehe also said that during the past six months of political strife, Thailand had lost competitiveness, particularly in regard to other Asean member states.
While other Asean counties had taken strides towards the Asean Economic Community, which is set to come into effect next year, Thailand has faced a major internal problem, he said, adding that new investors were hesitating to invest in Thailand, although existing investors have maintained their operations in the Kingdom.
Sa-angtip Amornchat, vice president – marketing of Power Buy, said the Army’s declaration of martial law would be positive for the whole country as well as for the business sector.
Both sides in the current political conflict – the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee and the pro-government United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship – are quite aggressive and have been pulling in absolutely different directions, he said.
This posed a high risk of the opposing camps of demonstrators confronting each other, with the potential for bloodshed.
“Before the declaration of martial law, we as a private business had no confidence at all. Consumers were also not in the mood for buying goods. With martial law, we have seen members of the general public, especially Bangkokians, more relaxed about the situation,” said the executive of one of the country’s largest electrical retail chains.