Government's fortunes hinge on transport scheme
The government will sink or swim depending on the actions of three individuals - Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong and Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt.
The political mercury is slated to soar in April and the fate of the government will hinge on how well the three can rein in coalition and opposition politicians.
Under Yingluck's leadership, Thailand is poised for an ambitious transformation of its logistics and transport infrastructure.
The spending outlay of almost Bt5 trillion, of which about Bt2 trillion will be financed by public loans, is one of the largest public investments in the country's history.
The resulting economic transformation, if completed in seven years to coincide with Yingluck's second term, will make Thailand the logistics hub that links Asean countries with India and Southern China.
The government has committed to this massive investment in the hope that it will boost the economy in the face of the global slowdown.
From an economic perspective, Yingluck is doing the sensible thing to cushion the country from the volatile economies of Japan, Europe and the US.
The unanswered question is whether the government can control the domestic political situation so as to make its economic visions a reality.
Despite the fact that the prime minister has frozen all controversial agendas, such as the charter rewrite, pardon for political protesters and amnesty for her brother Thaksin, political stability is still fragile.
But it is coalition MPs, rather than opposition lawmakers, who are posing the threat to the government.
Since Yingluck surprised them by delaying Thaksin's homecoming, the Democrats have been unable to regain their voice as an effective opposition.
Although the government is on track to launch a legislative debate on borrowing the necessary Bt2 trillion next month, the main opposition party has not even started to map out a strategy to oppose such a spending outlay.
Despite the opposition's disarray, Government House strategists predict there will only be time for a first reading of the loans bill before the legislative adjournment in April. Expectations are that its full passage will only be secured in the third quarter of the year.
The Democrats will certainly cite fiscal discipline as a legitimate reason to delay the bill's passage for as long as possible.
But the real obstacles to the bill's enactment come from within the Pheu Thai Party.
Yingluck, Kittiratt and Chadchart need time to convince their allies to abandon individual interests for the sake of the greater good.
Pheu Thai MPs and their leaders are unlikely to bicker in public, but the strain in their ties can not be overlooked.
While Yingluck is preaching transparency on her anti-graft crusade, at the same time she is picking investment proposals linked to Pheu Thai MPs and ignoring deals brokered by Thaksin.
If this unfair access to the pie is to continue, then the government could be undone by its ambitious plans.
For the past few months, Kittiratt has been in the hot seat, facing rebukes from Thaksin as well as Pheu Thai MPs and coalition allies. He is at his wits' end over how to please all political bosses at once.
Chadchart is having a hard time trying to deliver political expediency without compromising the integrity of investment projects.
He has about a month to come up with a practical plan to distribute a few crumbs to coalition and opposition politicians in exchange for their green-lighting the projects.
The stakes could not be higher. If Yingluck, Kittiratt and Chadchart fail to push through the economic transformation, then the government is at risk of losing its grip on power.