He dismissed claims by Pheu Thai Party leader Chonlanan Srikaew, who doubles as the opposition leader, that the government was corrupt, undemocratic and incompetent in dealing with Covid-19, as well as other problems stemming from the global pandemic.
“I am definitely not involved with irregularities, both in terms of government policy and my own intention,” the PM told the House session.
The general debate is being held on Thursday and Friday, in line with Article 152 of the Constitution, which allows MPs to make inquiries and recommendations to the government, without any voting.
Addressing the allegation that his government had come to power undemocratically, Prayut said: “This administration is not the one from 2014 [formed after the military coup]. Everyone here went through the election held under the 2017 Constitution.”
He also noted that only the prime minister and three other Cabinet members were in the post-coup junta while 32 others are newcomers.
“Certainly, the policies will be different” from the previous administration, he added.
The prime minister maintained that his government’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak was satisfactory and acceptable globally. He admitted that vaccine acquisitions might have been slow in the beginning but the country’s vaccine supply is now sufficient — with more than 100 million doses rolled out last year.
Regarding the big hike in pork prices following reports of a swine flu outbreak, the prime minister dismissed the opposition leader’s claim that the government had covered it up. He pointed out that large amounts of frozen pork were found to have been stored illegally, which could explain the increasing prices.
The PM said that the government’s remedy measures for business operators affected by Covid-19 had helped Thailand’s economy to grow 1.3 per cent during the first nine months of 2021. “That was beyond the expectation of many people,” he added.
He also said that there was an increase in employment and a decline in joblessness last year. Among the new graduates in 2020 and 2021, 66.7 per cent were hired in the private sector, 20 per cent in the public sector, and the remainder became self-employed or run their own business.
Last year, new business registrations exceeded business closures by four times, which pointed to increased confidence in the Thai economy, Prayut said. He pointed out that investor applications for government incentives amounted to more than Bt600 billion in total investments last year.
“That is better than the number before Covid, which indicates that Thailand’s situation is not that bad,” the PM said.
The country’s exports in 2021 totalled Bt8.5 trillion, and its financial rating set by three leading ratings institutions has remained unchanged at BBB+, he noted.
Published : February 17, 2022