Prayut Confirms His Plan To Serve Full Prime Minister Term

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said he would serve his full term in response to speculation that he could dissolve the House and call new elections before 2023.

During the debate on the executive order on another 500-billion-baht loan to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, he told the Senate that all the criticism against him only served to reinforce his bolster, ending rumors that his mandate would not be finished as scheduled.

“Throughout the seven years I’ve served, there is no corruption. Not a single baht reaches me. I’ve worked in a democratic system with an elected government,” the prime minister said.

“How much more democracy do you need? Should anyone be able to insult anyone? Should one disrespect his parents? Should one abuse his teachers freely?” he asked. Moreover, the prime minister said that the government should not be blamed for the swelling public debt that is reeling from breaking the limit.

“We have to ask ourselves whether it is necessary… what the level was before I came. Did I singlehandedly create these debts?” Gen Prayut questioned.

As of March 31 this year, public debt stood at 8.5 trillion baht or 54.3% of gross domestic product, close to the limit of 60% of GDP defined by the 2018 State Finance and Fiscal Discipline Act. Furthermore, the ceiling will likely need to be extended as, while borrowing will take it to around 58.6% of GDP, the sluggish economy means that this year’s GDP will be likely very low, further increasing the proportion.

During the debate, Gen Prayut also discussed the controversial handling of COVID-19 vaccines.

He stated that he had instructed the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to resolve their differences. His comments concerned a fight between the two bodies after several Bangkok hospitals canceled their vaccination appointments, citing inadequate supplies.

Public anger was directed first at the Public Health Ministry.

However, Minister Anutin Charnvirakul explained that it had already delivered the capital’s allotment in numbers previously established by the CCSA and blamed the BMA, saying that it was responsible for redistributing the vaccines to jab spots. In its defense, the City Hall said it had no control over the number of shots registered through the Mor Prom app that allows people to make vaccination appointments.

It had no choice but to give them, given the huge demand for vaccines in Bangkok.

Regarding the debate, it was reported that the senators voted 205-0 to approve the executive decree, with two abstentions.