Sunday, January 8, 2012

If the PM had to make a choice between these 2 ministers....

It's still a rumour, of course. But this morning's front-page report in Matichon Daily sounded a bit closer to some real decision by Premier Yingluck Shinawatra to effect a Cabinet reshuffle -- and it's going to be sooner than you thought. The next two to three weeks?

Finance Minister Theerachai Puvanartnaranubarn appears to be the main victim and the winner is none other than Deputy Premier Kittirat na Ranong, a close friend of the premier even before she became prime minister. If Matichon is right, Kittirat will take over the finance portfolio. His commerce post will be up by Yanyong Puangraj, currently the ministry's permanent secretary.

The reason cited by the report for the reshuffle is the conflict between Kittirat and Theerachai over the proposed emergency bills to transfer FIDF's debts to the central bank -- a move which has raised a huge controversy with the finance minister opposing the move while Kittirat insists on making the change.

Theerachai was conspicuously absent from the television programme on Saturday when Kittirat appeared with Dr Virabongsa Ramangkura, chairman of the committee charged with post-flood rehabilitation, explained the necessity of restructuring the debt burden in order that the government could make new borrowings to finance the large-scale reconstruction.

Virabongsa hit out at the central bank for behaving like an "autonomous state within a state." Kittirat was more diplomatic. It was rumoured that Theerachai, who had been invited to join the panel, made himself unavailable at the last minute.

If the Cabinet reshuffle does take place, according to Matichon, two deputy communications ministers -- Kittisak Hattasongkroh and Police Lt Gen Chaj Kuldilok -- may also be ousted. They have been at odds with their boss, Communications Minister Air Chief Marshal Sukampol Suwannathat.

Also, a close aide to the premier, Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisal, may be made minister attached to the PM's Office to be in charge of media and communications, according to the report.

The line between Bangkok and Dubai must be very very busy indeed these days. Thaksin Shinawatra, in his recent phone-in to Pheu Thai MPs, said if he hadn't picked up the phone from some of them, it was because of the rumours about the reshuffle.

So, perhaps, things are really shaping up for some changes in the Cabinet line-up. The merry-go-round has started to spin now.

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