August 22, 2014 01:00
By Business Reporters
Business representatives say they are confident that the new prime minister, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, will drive the country's economic growth.
Vallop Vitanakorn, vice chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, said yesterday that the junta chief was suitable for the position of prime minister and his new post would help speed up the National Council for Peace and Order’s national reform effort along with restoring foreign confidence in the country.
He said the appointment of the new PM would improve governance, boost investment, and support the recovery of the tourism industry, since Prayuth would be working with a new cabinet to continue with the national reform effort. He is also expected to implement measures to stimulate the economy as proposed by the private sector.
Vallop said the 2015 budget bill would be the top priority of the new cabinet and it should pass the second and third readings with ease, which should help stimulate the economy through the expected increase in investment.
Boonsithi Chokwatana, chairman of the Saha Group, said he wanted the new government and prime minister to make exports a priority concern. The economy has not recovered yet and the new government should first promote a strong export sector and keep the currency more stable, albeit a bit weaker.
He said that at the time the junta seized power on May 22, the baht was trading at 32.9 against the US dollar. However, it has been getting stronger, now around 32.1.
“I would like to urge the new government to keep the currency depreciated to boost exports, especially for agricultural products, so that local farmers and grass-roots people will benefit the most. The government also should monitor the currencies of neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, China, India and Japan on a daily basis and balance our currency with theirs,” he said.
Isara Vongkusoljit, a member of the National Legislative Assembly and chairman of the Board of Trade of Thailand and Thai Chamber of Commerce, claimed the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce had supported Prayuth becoming prime minister. Thailand now wants a strong leader and a person who will bring about change after facing many problems and a lack of discipline for a while.
As a priority task, Isara said he wanted to see the new prime minister continue to drive the country’s economic growth. Within a suitable period, he called for the cancellation of martial law in some provinces in order to promote tourism.
Asked about expectations for economic ministers in the new cabinet, Isara said private enterprises expected people with a good understanding of economic issues who could support growth.
Piyaman Tejabaipul, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT), called for Prayuth and his team to outline a strategic long-term plan to boost the country’s strength and to keep the Kingdom on the world map.
“The private sector needs to see a complete mission and action plan, not just for the short term but also long-term,” she said.
The TCT believes that tourism revenue could account for up to 15 per cent of gross domestic product within the next four years while annual international arrivals should reach 40 million.
The council also called for the new government to translate strategic plans proposed earlier into action plans. These included demolishing illegal hotels and accommodations, building more infrastructure and improving accessibility, and enhancing local people’s skills.
Banthoon Lamsam, chairman and chief executive officer of Kasikornbank, said the prime minister had many agendas and each one faced high expectations from the public. However, the challenge for the prime minister was how to push growth and create wealth for the economy.