BANGKOK, Aug 13 — Thai Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan o-cha has called on the nation to unite to overcome the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a televised address to the nation on Thursday evening, Prayuth said Thailand, which is heavily dependent on exports and tourism, is taking a heavy hit from the economic crisis triggered by COVID-19.

“We cannot escape the storm.  We are a small boat in a big ocean, and our economy can only start returning to normality when the rest of the world starts returning to normality,” he said.

Last week, Thailand installed a new economic team after Somkid Jatusripitak (former Deputy Prime Minister) and three cabinet ministers including the Finance Minister tendered their resignation in July.

The new economic team is led by Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow – who is also the Energy Minister – and Finance Minister Preedee Daochai.

“The economy is a big threat to our lives as is the health threat, which is why I have appointed a non-politician, (and) outside experts to manage the essential financial portfolios,” Prayuth added.

“They are respected men of strong moral character and with long and outstanding professional records,” he said.

Prayuth said the government will continue to provide short-term relief to the people and start the right programme towards sustainable economic recovery, provide incentives to help people stay employed, and for businesses to be competitive, and “there must be a plan for youth employment”.

In June, Thailand’s parliament has approved a 1.9 trillion baht (RM252 billion) stimulus package to cushion the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak in the kingdom.

Amid a series of student-led anti-government protest since July 18, Prayuth said “we must focus on economic survival of tens of millions”

“Let’s get the economy going first; first, get that done by working together, and we can look to fixing the other issues, collaboratively, later.”


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