Thai PM in the dark after reports of top economic team resigning

Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana at an investment event in London in 2018. (Twitter pic/UKASEAN)

BANGKOK: Thailand’s Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana and economic policy guru and Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak are planning to resign their posts, local media reported on Wednesday

Reuters could not independently confirm the online reports by two Thai media groups, while other media reports said the ministers were not resigning.

Changes to the top economic team could rattle Southeast Asia’s worst-performing economy, which is struggling with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with billions of dollars of stimulus measures being rolled out and big-ticket investment projects already slow.

The ministers could not be reached for comment, and the government spokeswoman did not answer phone calls.

Sources in the ruling Palang Pracharat Party gave contradictory answers when contacted by Reuters.

Financial newspaper Than Settakij first reported on Wednesday afternoon that Somkid and three cabinet ministers had tendered their resignation to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

It was followed by a similar report Krungthep Turakij, another financial newspaper in the same media group.

Another daily newspaper Matichon said reports of the resignations were untrue, but its sister financial paper Prachachart said the same group of economic ministers would hold a news conference on Thursday to explain their planned resignation.

The newspapers all cited unnamed sources.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Wednesday he knows nothing about resignation plans by members of his top finance team amid conflicting media reports.

Thai online media reports said Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana and economic policy guru and Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak would announce their resignations soon, though other media reports said the ministers were not quitting.

Asked about the reports, Prayuth told reporters “I don’t know, I have not seen.”

Changes to the top economic team could rattle Thailand’s economy, which is struggling with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.