Thai Premier Surayud Expands Cabinet Amid Performance Criticism

Bloomberg

By Anuchit Nguyen and Suttinee Yuvejwattana

April 28 (Bloomberg) — Thailand’s military-installed Prime
Minister Surayud Chulanont added three new members to his Cabinet
amid growing criticism of his government’s performance.

Three deputy ministers were assigned to assist heads at the
ministries of interior, health and tourism, Yongyuth Mayalarp, a
government spokesman, said by telephone today. The size of the
Cabinet, endorsed by King Bhumibol Adulyadej, was increased to 36
members from 33.

Surayud has vowed to remain at the head of the junta-
installed government until an election in December. Consumer and
business confidence are at five-year lows amid mounting anti-
government protests and escalating terrorist attacks in the
country’s southern provinces.

“Business and consumer confidence have fallen partly
because of concern about the government’s capability,” Dusit
Nontanakorn, secretary general of Thai Chamber of Commerce, a
trade group, said before today’s Cabinet expansion. “Appointment
of few ministers won’t help unless the government is faster and
more responsive.”

The trade group on April 19 urged the government to quickly
boost spending and cut property transfer taxes to boost
consumption and economic growth, Dusit said.

Nat Indrapana was named deputy minister for tourism and
sports, Wallop Thainuea was appointed deputy healthy minister and
Teerawut Butsripoom deputy interior minister.

Work `Overload’

“There is an overload of work at those three ministries”
spokesman Yongyuth said. “The addition of the three ministers
will improve efficiency at these ministries.”

Protests in Bangkok criticizing the government’s performance
and rallies opposing the September coup that ousted former Prime
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra have increased since they began last
month. Terrorist attacks in southern provinces that have killed
almost 1,900 people since January 2004 have escalated since the
coup.

The World Bank on April 5 cut Thailand’s 2007 economic
growth outlook for a second time in five months, lowering it to
4.3 percent from 4.6 percent. The economy grew by 5 percent in
2006. Bank of Thailand on April 11 cut its key interest rate for
a third time this year and signaled borrowing costs may be
lowered further to boost growth.

Surayud last month rejected calls from the coup’s leaders to
impose a state of emergency that would have given them the power
to quash protests. He pledged to hold a general election on Dec.
16 or 23 to restore an elected government.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Anuchit Nguyen in Bangkok at
anguyen@bloomberg.net ;
Suttinee Yuvejwattana in Bangkok at
Suttinee1@bloomberg.net .

Last Updated: April 28, 2007 06:16 EDT

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