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Somkid: Coalition to put off investors

Economy tsar and Palang Pracharath Party architect Somkid Jatusripitak (left) fears lack of support from the Democrats' Abhisit will make it tougher for Gen Prayut to quickly form a post-election government. (File photos)

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Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak is concerned that a fractured coalition will delay the formation of the next government and dampen investor confidence.

The constitution makes a coalition government all but inevitable, but forming a new government may be tricky because some political parties do not support any core parties, he said. Such a political stalemate could discourage the private sector from investing.

“Leaders of some political parties announced that they will not support Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha returning as prime minister,” Mr Somkid said. “Perhaps such announcements were made too early.

“If a new government can’t be formed and there is a political deadlock, the private sector will slow investment and new projects will be stalled.”

Mr Somkid’s remarks came after Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva gave Gen Prayut the cold shoulder, declaring that his party would not support Gen Prayut as prime minister in the next term. Mr Abhisit’s stance is considered a blow to the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), as it will be difficult to secure enough votes to set up a singleparty government.

Commenting on criticism that Gen Prayut wants to maintain power after the poll, Mr Somkid defended the premier, who is also head of the National Council for Peace and Order, saying Gen Prayut was not required to hold a general election but decided to do so and has accepted the PPRP’s nomination for prime minister.

He said Gen Prayut wants to continue the current policies.

“For a political party that does not want to ally with other parties, have we ever seen that party accomplish anything? They should not talk too much,” Mr Somkid said.

He also denied the claims of some political parties that Thailand’s economy needs restoration after being damaged by the government.

“Even the World Bank and Bloomberg have noted that the Thai economy is developing well,” Mr Somkid said.

A sluggish global economic environment is affecting Thai exports, he said, while the formation of the next government will delay private investment for 2-3 months, leaving state enterprise investment to provide an economic buffer to prevent damage.

Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong said state enterprises play a huge role in the economy, given that their combined assets are worth 15 trillion baht, close to the country’s GDP value.

According to the National Economic and Social Development Council, Thailand’s GDP in 2018 was 16.3 trillion baht.

State enterprises posted an aggregate profit of 400 billion baht last year.

State enterprises’ total investment budget of 400 billion baht in this fiscal year is a key economic driver amid high uncertainty, Mr Apisak said.

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