Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has revealed that a cabinet reshuffle could take place next month after Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana and three others handed in their resignation letters with immediate effect yesterday.
Mr Uttama, Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, Higher Education, Science and Innovations Minister Suvit Maesincee, and Kobsak Pootrakul, deputy secretary-general of the prime minister, submitted their resignations yesterday while Gen Prayut was in Si Sa Ket.
The four quit after Somkid Jatusripitak resigned as deputy prime minister of the economic team on Wednesday.
The ministers’ resignations yesterday came after they had relinquished their membership in the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) last week following a party leadership change late last month when Mr Uttama was replaced by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon as the PPRP leader.
Speaking in Si Sa Ket, Gen Prayut said he was not under pressure to reshuffle the cabinet but it should be done soon. He said the new cabinet line-up is likely to be ready by next month.
He admitted that he had approached “outsiders” to join the economic team and fill his quota of cabinet seats.
“The reshuffle will take place as soon as possible. It should be ready by next month. I’ve approached people [to join the cabinet] but they have yet to give me an answer,” he said.
Gen Prayut thanked Mr Somkid and the four departing ministers who worked with him for five years and helped him lay down the fundamentals of the digital economy and the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).
He said it was a pity to see the men leave and conceded their resignations were triggered by political changes.
“The political situation has changed, so they decided to go. I can say I’m sorry that they have left. We’re ending on friendly terms,” said Gen Prayut.
Gen Prayut urged the public to trust him in choosing replacements but said he cannot please everyone. He declined to comment on potential candidates for the economic posts amid speculation about who they might be.
Former central bank governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul and TMB Bank’s former chief executive Boontuck Wangcharoen are tipped to take the deputy prime minister post while Preedee Daochai, chairman of the Thai Bankers’ Association, is speculated to become finance minister.
Pailin Chuchottaworn, the former deputy transport minister, has been tipped to take the energy portfolio and Thosaporn Sirisamphand, secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Council, will likely be PM’s Office minister.
Yesterday, Mr Uttama told a press briefing his team was willing to cooperate with the government in ways that were beneficial for the country.