Loei MP Lertsak Pattanachaikun warned that Thailand could become a failed state with rising public debt and an economy which, unlike other world economies right now, does not seem to have significant growth prospects as it has yet to face its darkest hour with a limited number of the population vaccinated amid exploding levels of deaths and infections.

A Pheu Thai MP has sharply criticised the current Prime Minister’s leadership in the present crisis and says Thailand must strive both to defeat the virus and move forward economically. It comes as a popular newspaper poll with over 101 thousand respondents, showed only 1.8% of readers who took part in the huge survey had any confidence in the government as consumer confidence for June was reported at a new low.

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The embattled Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha is facing a stiff challenge from a surging wave of infections, weakening economic prospects and withering public confidence in his government. It comes as Loei Pheu Thai MP Lertsak Pattanachaikun calls for a commitment to reopening the kingdom, fight the virus threat and moves to push on further with efforts to refloat international tourism into the country. He is warning that without success, the country risks becoming a failed state.

A Pheu Thai MP has warned that the inability of the current government and Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha to manage the challenging virus situation while also pursuing a roadmap for economic recovery could result in Thailand becoming a failed state.

The comments by Loei MP Lertsak Pattanachaikun comes as a huge poll in one of Thailand’s most popular newspapers Thai Rath showed that only 1.8% of those who responded had any confidence in the current government while over 87% told the survey that they never had confidence in the administration of General Prayut who came to power in the 2014 coup and was re-elected as Prime Minister after the 2019 General Election.

87% of people in the huge newspaper poll said they have never had confidence in the government

The balance of those who responded, nearly 11%, said that they had lost confidence in the administration over its bungling of the virus crisis.

The charged atmosphere and negativity surrounding the government’s performance comes as Thailand, on Thursday, reported a record number of deaths from Covid-19 at 75 with 7,058 infections.

Officials are privately conceding, as predicted in recent weeks by Dr Nithiphat Chiarakun of the Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital, that daily infection rates in excess of 10,000 can be expected from next week.

Survey saw 101,144 readers polled and generated 29,969 comments as public anxiety mounts

The newspaper survey, while it drew a response from 101,144 readers, also generated nearly 30,000 comments and political pronouncements from citizens who are agitated about the state the country finds itself in.

Thai Examiner survey on who should be Thai Prime Minister and the direction of the country – click here to let us know what you think

This week, Mr Lertsak expressed his fear that the current escalating virus surge will jeopardize the plan announced by General Prayut to reopen the country within 120 days.

He feared that this may further impede the government’s tax take which, according to the latest report for the most recent eight-month period, was down by ฿200 billion, a situation that he expects to get worse if renewed growth and confidence in the economy is not achieved.

Falling government tax receipts will be aggravated further if the kingdom fails to reopen

The MP from northeast Thailand worried that a failure to reopen the kingdom may see further business closures, the loss of more jobs and tax revenues.

He said the government must have a plan to protect the country from the virus on one hand and an economic plan to move forward, on the other, rather than reacting to the crisis willy-nilly on a day to day basis.

He claimed it was imperative that GDP does not erode further this year as the government has already passed a provision to borrow an additional ฿500 billion and was now in very real danger of a breach of the State Fiscal and Financial Disciplines Act of 2018 which stipulates a maximum public debt limit to be adhered to by the government at 60% of GDP.

United States rebounds back sharply despite being the country hardest hit by Covid 19, no such prospect for Thailand as growth this year will be at best anaemic

The House of Representatives member pointed to strong recoveries in western countries, China and even some of Thailand’s ASEAN partners from the virus crisis despite the ongoing threat of variants and the continuation of the pandemic.

He was particularly enthused about the United States where GDP is expected, according to many experts, to grow by 7% in 2021 with the current unemployment rate at only 5.7%. 

This is the country that was hardest hit by the virus yet Thailand, which only ranks 64th in the world in terms of impact, finds itself in an intolerably dangerous position which is causing rising alarm both within and without the country.

Baht falling with confidence in Thailand waning as foreign tourism closure and virus drive funds out

Thailand, at the best estimate, will be lucky to achieve 1.5% growth this year with the very real prospect if the country’s foreign tourism industry is not brought back to life and at critical levels, that GDP may not see growth at all or at best, be anaemic.

Rising threat of inflation in the United States may spell further opportunity for Thailand stateside

The MP, who is part of the Pheu Thai economic team, pointed to the prospect of rising inflation in the United States and the distinct possibility of countermeasures by the Federal Reserve in 2022 including a tightening of monetary policy, something that will cause the Thai baht to further lose ground against the US dollar.

The Thai currency is currently at a one year low against the greenback at ฿32.53 per dollar representing a rise of over 8.4% since the start of the year.

Mr Lertsak pointed this out as a potential opportunity for Thailand where the only encouraging aspect of the country’s current economy was a growth in exports. A lower-valued baht will also spur foreign tourists to come and visit the country.

He pointed out that exports have grown by 10.8% since the start of the year and in May witnessed a 41.6% surge compared to a disastrous performance in 2020 when the intensive national lockdown caused by the first virus wave saw exports contract by 22.5%.

Move forward with talks on a Thai European Union free trade pact says Pheu Thai economic team MP

He urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce to renew efforts right now to ramp up Thailand’s export capacity including calling on the Ministry of Commerce to push forward with the kingdom’s negotiations with the European Union towards a free trade agreement which it has already signed with both Singapore and Vietnam.

Mr Lertsak said what was required now was a government leader who can manage to deal with several situations at the same time and who can possibly turn the current crisis into opportunity. 

However, he feared that this was not possible with the current government and Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha who, he said, was more adept at turning opportunities into crises.

Members of the public talk about suing the government for its actions during the emergency

The current crisis of confidence in the government and sense of malaise has led many leading figures and ordinary Thais, in moments and fits of helplessness, to call for the administration and its players to be sued both criminally and civilly for its lacklustre performance in managing the threat from the disease, the vaccine rollout and the economic devastation that has beset the kingdom.

In May, before the onset of this fourth wave of the virus driven by the Delta variant in June, the Prime Minister’s position seemed unassailable and in real political terms, it is still relatively strong.

Amid crisis, it is still likely Prayut will be reelected PM in 2023

On the other hand, the negative economic impact of this pandemic on Thailand’s economy appears to be both more far-reaching and longer-lasting than western countries, at this time not, least because of Thailand’s unique dependence on foreign tourism but also because of the inequality of Thai society and the economy itself.

Civil cases against the government taken all the time says Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam but criminal prosecution is highly unlikely

On Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, General Prayut’s legal eagle, agreed with press reporter’s suggestions that the government can be sued civilly for its actions under the Emergency Decree and indeed such cases have been taken already, he conceded.

That was quite normal, he pointed out, particularly for actions taken at the Administrative Court.

He said however he did not see a justifiable basis for such actions and it was not his role to suggest how the opposition could approach such moves which would require any losing parties to also pay considerable costs. He said such cases were launched on an ongoing basis by plaintiffs.

Mr Wissanu also expressed confidence that the current legal basis for the government’s measures offered strong protection to its members against criminal prosecution before the courts.

He said, both now and in the future, such proceedings would be very difficult to pursue.

Further restrictions in the pipeline to combat latest virus wave yet with consumer confidence tanking

On Thursday, it was reported that the Prime Minister was scheduled to consult with senior medical advisors as officials with the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) warned the public that further restrictive measures may well be taken.

The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce released its monthly consumer index poll for June which, at 43.1, was a record low as public confidence has been sapped by the explosion of the virus-driven by the Delta variant which is sweeping through a country in which, as yet, a small minority are vaccinated.

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