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Prayut boasts he has 'cleared up mess'

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has claimed success in the government's administration during the past two years, saying his regime has stepped in to clear up the mess besetting the country for more than a decade.

Gen Prayut led his cabinet to tell the public what the government has achieved during its two years in office Thursday. The presentation took about five hours.

Speaking at Government House, Gen Prayut said he was glad to see smiles back on the faces of Thai people.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, in front of a huge slide show, said Thursday that overall he has done a fine job during his first two years in office, cleaning up a 10-year political mess. (Photo by Thiti Wannamontha)

"Siamese Smiles have been missing from Thai society for more than 10 years, during which time the country was not at peace and development was slow. The economy was not reformed, leading to inequality and injustice. The people earned very little and society was in turmoil ... the public could not gain access to the justice system on an equal basis," Gen Prayut said.

Over the past decade, the country has lacked a long-term national strategy, leaving it with no direction in development and little attention given to economic and social development plans, the prime minister said.

Gen Prayut went on to say that duplicated and wasteful expenses in budgets had left people unable to fully benefit from government development projects, while wealth and resources had been concentrated only in limited areas, eventually leading to political conflict.

Gen Prayut added that corruption has been the worst scourge of the country.

These problems had beset the country and remained unsolved for more than a decade, he said.

"Thailand needs reform to meet the challenges and changing circumstances of the 21st century. Reforms must be introduced to all systems so the country will not end up becoming an undeveloped country and being left behind," Gen Prayut said.

Gen Prayut said the government had achieved tangible results during its two years in office as evidenced by assessments of the country by various agencies and organisations.

For example, he said Thailand's ranking in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) had continued to improve. The country ranked 76th in 2015, compared to 102nd in 2013.

He said he expects the country's GDP to grow to 3.2% this year from 0.8% in 2014, while Thailand's ranking on the International Institute for Management Development world competitiveness index had risen to 28th this year from 30th last year, Gen Prayut said.

He also said the government has pushed through key legislation to regulate the ivory trade which helped avert trade sanctions under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

The government has also made steady progress in tackling human trafficking as a national priority, so much so the US upgraded Thailand to its Tier 2 watchlist in its latest report, from the lowest Tier 3 level in 2014, Gen Prayut said.

He said the government has laid down guidelines for military and police reforms so the public can rely more on them.

Over the past two years, the government has launched a crackdown on corruption and influential figures, as well as come up with measures to regulate passenger vans, and deal with encroachment on public waterways, among other measures.

Gen Prayut also said he has exercised special powers under Section 44 of the interim charter in a constructive manner to ensure security and clear certain logjams that could hinder progress in implementing projects.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said 187 pieces of legislation have been enacted since the National Council for Peace and Order took power in 2014, compared to about 120 pieces of legislation which were issued between 2008-2014.

The laws enacted during the current government are aimed at steering the country forward and addressing the country's problems, Mr Wissanu said.

Niran Kultanant, a lecturer of Buri Ram Rajabhat University, said the government's ability to maintain peace and order during the past two years is one of its strong points.

But its weakness is the export figures have still not improved which has led to an economic slump, he said.

Thanawat Polwichai, director of the Centre for Economic and Business Forecasting of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, gave a thumbs up to the government's economic performance.

He gave the government a score of eight out of 10 for its efforts to tackle the economy by injecting cash into the economic system and speeding up budget allocation particularly for major infrastructure projects.

Chen Namchaisiri, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, said he was satisfied with the government, especially "its sincerity to tackle all the country's problems, especially the economy".

"What we are satisfied with the most is the speedy policy that helps cut complicated legislative procedure that has resulted in the recovering economy," Mr Chen said.

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