Deputy PM Admits Government Finding COVID-19 Situation Difficult

Deputy PM
Deputy PM Jurin Laksanawisit

Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit admitted yesterday the government was finding the COVID-19 pandemic difficult to handle, due to the economic downturn and political unrest.

He was responding to reporters’ questions about the planned censure debate against the government which stands accused of mishandling the pandemic and national vaccine programme. Meanwhile, street protests demanding Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha resign are escalating.

“The government is facing COVID-19 and related economic problems as well as political problems. We have to solve these issues with the people’s interest at heart. It isn’t an easy situation but it’s the government’s job to solve it,” he said.

The Democrat Party leader refused to say whether the censure debate was aimed at pressuring coalition partners to withdraw from the government, saying the opposition had not yet named the cabinet ministers to be grilled. He said if the opposition had a hidden motive, it would be revealed when the censure motion was submitted to the House.

He also dismissed as unlikely reports that some government figures supplied information to the opposition for use in the planned no-confidence debate.

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Earlier, Pheu Thai Party secretary-general Prasert Chanthararuangthong said the opposition would lodge the censure motion with House Speaker Chuan Leekpai on Monday targeting three to four ministers including Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul over the handling of the pandemic.

Opposition parties would meet tomorrow to compare notes and decide if other cabinet ministers should be grilled, he said. The debate was expected to take place late this month or early in September.

Mr Leekpai said yesterday the House would spend no more than seven days examining the censure motion and if it was all in order he would hold talks with the government and opposition to pick the dates.

He said COVID-19 restrictions were being tightened ahead of the second and third readings of the 2022 Budget Bill which would take place from 18th-20th August.

Parliamentary officials and journalists would be asked to undergo COVID-19 screening using antigen test kits from 16th-17th August while MPs and their aides would be urged to take COVID-19 tests too before attending the session.

Mr Leekpai also said the House would also decide when to conclude the daily session so that parliament officials can return home before the curfew.

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