BANGKOK – Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha appeared on Thursday for the first time in front of an elected parliament to outline the plans of the new government, the first voted to power since 2014, when he led a coup and installed a military junta.
Prayut, a former military general, laid out around 20 policies of his government, which was formed earlier this month by a coalition of 19 parties whose lawmakers were elected in the March 24 elections.
Prayut highlighted the program to promote the production of cannabis for medical use, a proposal put forwards by a key coalition partner to boost the large agricultural sector of the country and help it become a pioneer of the marijuana industry in Asia.
The prime minister said the government was set to unroll a development plan which could take Thailand out of the middle-income group and turn it into a developed country within the 21st century.
“Our government is determined to promote country’s development in order to set Thailand free from a middle-income trap,” Prayut said.
He said he expected to have an annual budget of 3.3 trillion baht (around $106.8 billion) and announced a tax collection system aimed at ensuring the necessary revenue.
Prayut, who was the head of the military junta for the last five years, had his first confrontation with the opposition, which forced him to stick to reading the policy document without offering additional comments, as the rules stipulate.
Other government policies in the plan include defending the monarchy, maintaining security and fight against corruption, objectives which the general had used to justify the coup he led five years ago.
The prime minister said he was ready for examining the need for amendments in the 2017 constitution, which was brought by the military junta and strengthened military interference in the political and economic spheres of the country.
Prayut was the prime ministerial candidate of the pro-military Palang Pracharat party, formed by members of his cabinet during the military rule, and was elected in June with the help of 19 other parties.