Thai PM’s failure to respond to in-person arraignment angers opposition MPs

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Opposition MPs expressed frustration at the absence from the Lower House today (Thursday) of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha or any of his representatives to respond to an interpellation on the issues current economies, raised by the leader of the Move Forward party, Pita Limjaroenrat. .

Pita’s question was addressed to the Prime Minister, but in his letter to the Speaker of the House, the Prime Minister claimed that he was busy and had instructed Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith to respond to the interpellation in his name.

Arkhom, however, claimed in a letter to the Speaker of the House that he would not be free, but had instructed his deputy, Santi Promphat, to act on his behalf, but Santi also claimed that he was busy and not could not attend the session.

During today’s House meeting, Pita said that the issue he raised was important, that it affects many people, and that someone in government, the Prime Minister in particular, must respond, adding that the excuse of having other commitments is unacceptable.

He then asked House Deputy Speaker Suchart Tancharoen, who was chairing the meeting, to remind the prime minister to abide by House rules regarding arraignments.

Pheu Thai MP for Chiang Mai province Julapun Amornvivat told parliament that the government is responsible to parliament and that the prime minister appoints someone who is not free to answer an interpellation on his behalf is unacceptable.

Responding to complaints from opposition MPs, Suchart said he had previously reminded the government, including the prime minister, to show respect to parliament and answer questions from MPs.

He said that before appointing someone to respond to the opposition’s interpellation, the Prime Minister must ensure that the person is free to act on his behalf. He then reminded Deputy Home Minister Nipon Boonyamanee to inform the Prime Minister of opposition complaints against him.

Suchart, however, told the opposition that she could raise the same interpellation with the Prime Minister at the next House meeting.

This is far from the first such incident as Prayut had previously assigned a minister to answer questions in parliament on his behalf, but the minister was unable to do so either.

Thailand’s GDP growth rate is expected to be 3.2% this year and rise to 4.4% next year, according to forecasts from the Monetary Policy Committee in early June. As in many other countries, inflation is soaring and is expected to reach 4.9% this year. Prices of several goods, especially food items, are on the rise alongside rising fuel costs, with diesel currently trading at around 35 baht/litre.

The opposition plans to grill Prayut and 10 of his ministers in mid-July in the fourth no-confidence debate against this administration.

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