Thai leader reshuffles Cabinet in effort to boost economy

By The Associated Press | Posted - Aug. 20, 2015 at 4:01 a.m.

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BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand's prime minister has reshuffled his Cabinet, responding to concerns that the military-installed government has failed to revive the badly lagging economy.

The move comes just days after a bomb exploded at a Bangkok shrine, killing 20 people, including foreigners, in a blow for the country's vital tourism industry.

Former Finance Minister Somkid Jatusripitak was appointed deputy prime minister and will lead the new economic team. His experience is expected to boost sentiment toward the economy.

Thailand's exports and economy remain weak, and the baht is among the region's worst performers. Just days ago, the state planning agency lowered its economic growth estimate to 2.7-3.2 percent from an earlier 3-4 percent.

The new appointments became effective Thursday with their publication in the Royal Gazette.

Other appointments included career diplomat Don Pramudwinai, who was named foreign minister, moving up from the deputy's position and replacing Gen. Thanasak Patimaprakorn, who became a deputy prime minister. The only woman taking a new Cabinet post was Atchaka Sibunruang, minister of industry.

Joining Somkid's team is Apisak Tantivorawong, former president of state-owned Krung Thai Bank, who replaces Sommai Phasee as finance minister.

Somkid, a U.S.-educated former marketing executive, served as deputy prime minister and commerce minister under the government of deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and then briefly in the military government that was installed after a coup toppled Thaksin in 2006.

He is replacing Pridiyathorn Devakula, a former Central Bank governor who had served as finance minister and deputy prime minister in the post-Thaksin government.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha had indicated that coordination of economic policy had not been smooth under Pridiyathorn.

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