Thailand’s new finance minister Predee Daochai who was only appointed barely a month ago, has resigned today.
The former banker took office just last month as Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha reshuffled his economic team to address the drop in demand and the devastation suffered by the country’s vital tourist industry and also the ailing economy.
According to media sources, Predee, 61, did not respond to telephone calls from reporters, and it was not immediately known why he resigned. Local Thai media said he wanted to quit for medical and health reasons.
The announcement came as a shock as as the Thai government is struggling to pull Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy out of a slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic and also by the government the last 5 years.
The minister’s his resignation was confirmed by an official announcement in the country’s Royal Gazette.
According to earlier media reports, Mr Predee disagreed with his deputy, Santi Prompat from the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), over the reshuffle of high-ranking officials, in particular who should head the Excise Department. Mr Predee reportedly wanted Lavaron Sangsnit, director of the Fiscal Policy Office, for the post, but Mr Santi preferred Prapas Kong-Ied, director of the State Enterprise Policy Office.
Deputy Finance Minister Santi Phromphat will likely to perform as the acting finance minister until Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha names another person to replace Pridi.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam dismissed as "groundless" rumors that Pridi had developed a serious conflict with some influential figures in government over the naming of senior officials as heads of several departments under his own portfolio.
It was said that his resignation lead the local stock market to fall as much as 0.9% , but it had recovered by the close to stand less than 0.4% down.
His departure would has created uncertainty in policy-making as the government rolls out billions of dollars of stimulus to aid the economy through the pandemic.
The Thai economy could shrink by a record 8.5% this year, according to the finance ministry.
He resigned minister was co-president Kasikornbank before leaving the lender to join the cabinet.
Even though Thailand has so far reported only 3,417 coronavirus infections and 58 deaths from COVID-19 and has lifted most restrictions, its economy has been hit badly, in particular tourism.
The country is predicted to record less than a 18 percent of last year’s record 39.8 million visitors, whose spending made up about 11.4% of GDP.
Thailand’s economy is getting worse day by day and numerous sectors are badly affected including the property, hospitality, retail and export sectors. SMEs, microbusinesses and startups are literally without any access to fundings while unemployment rates are also rising.