The military dictatorship has been hopeless at economic management. Part of the reason for this is that it resurrected failed finance minister and (his major “qualification”) minor prince Pridiyathorn Devakula as its chief economic minister. As predicted, he again failed.
Perhaps humiliatingly, the military junta, while reshuffling the cabinet to strengthen military domination, The Dictator appointed former Thaksin Shinawatra finance minister Somkid Jatusripitak. The idea is that the Sino-Thai “technocrat” has a magic economic wand and can revive the economy.
The thinking and memory here seems to be that, despite all of the “sins” of the Thai Rak Thai government, it was economically successful and that success brought political support.
In a throwback set of policies, Somkid is reported to be reviving “the One Tambon One Product (Otop) scheme to kick-start the grassroots economy while boosting multiple business and industrial clusters with new incentives…” and the “Village Fund scheme…”.
Somkid told business leaders “that the economic situation is not yet a ‘crisis’ but there has been a lack of private confidence plus a slowdown in the global export demand.” Reviving the Keynsianism of the Thaksin period, Somkid declared that “we have to re-balance by shifting our focus to domestic activities and SMEs (small and medium enterprises) to strengthen our economy.” The emphasis, as emphasized by some business leaders is on “boosting domestic consumption.”
The problem for Somkid is that he is not an ideas man and, under the military dictatorship, he lacks a team of economic advisers who can provide innovative policies. Hence, we see the return to old policies for a domestic economy that has changed considerably over the past decade and a half. He also lacks the support at the top that Thaksin gave him in the early 2000s. Convincing the political troglodytes and economic morons of the junta of the need for innovative economic policy is like excavating dinosaur fossils.