Exclusive: Ruling party leadership contest was moved forward to let new leaders decide on national budget

Palang Pracharat’s leadership contest, which took place on Saturday and saw General Prawit Wongsuwan elected as leader, was moved from its original date on July 1 to allow the new leadership to decide on how to spend the new stimulus budget.

Deputy Party Leader Paibul Nititawan told Thai Enquirer that the original leadership contest was due to take place this coming Wednesday but was moved up so that Prawit and the new executive council could lead the party ahead of budget decisions that are due to take place early this week.

Thailand has allocated some 1.9 trillion baht for stimulus and bailout packages to help an economy wrecked by the coronavirus pandemic. The government, now ostensibly led by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha and General Prawit, said it would consider more measures in the coming weeks.

The country’s central bank revised its prediction this week and said the country’s economy would contract by 8 per cent instead of the earlier predicted 5 per cent.

Paibul denied reports that the ruling party would siphon off some of the massive stimulus budget to placate its own members and woo members of the opposition.

“The opposition party will say anything to discredit us,” he told Thai Enquirer.

Paibul, as the leading member of parliament’s committee to oversee the spending of the stimulus package, said that he would carry out his duties with transparency and ethics.

Discontent

Palang Pracharat’s new leadership and executive council has completely bypassed the faction led by party leader Uttama Savanayana drawing a sharp line between the technocrats that used to run the party and those closely aligned to the army and Prawit.

“If you think there were questions over misconduct during the previous leadership, wait until you see what happens under this outfit,” a former leader inside the party told Thai Enquirer on condition of anonymity. “The people that will lead the party now are hungry for profit and I worry that it will hurt the people.”

Among the likely cabinet members to face the axe is economic tsar Somkid Jatusripitak who has been blamed behind closed doors by Prawit and other Palang Pracharat members as being responsible for the economy’s poor showing.

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