11 July 2024

The Royal Thai Army’s (RTA) First Division of the Royal Guards has put a fleet of 34 trucks and drivers on standby to help with cargo transport, in case truck drivers stage a strike to put pressure on the government to cap the diesel price at 25-baht/litre.

The idea of using army trucks as a temporary measure to ease any hardships caused by a stoppage of truck delivery services, as threatened by the Land Transport Federation of Thailand, was initiated by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha during the cabinet’s mobile meeting in the southern province of Krabi earlier this week.

The government has been resisting the truckers’ demands to cap diesel prices, claiming that it has been using a substantial amount of money to keep the price at 30 baht/litre, which is lower than the actual market price, currently around 34 baht.

Thai Liberal Party (Seri Ruam Thai) leader Seripisut Temiyavet is, however, questioning the prime minister’s initiative, saying that it will not work at all because it does not address the root cause of the problem.

“Does the army have nothing else to do?” asked the former police chief and chair of Parliament’s anti-corruption committee, during a press conference at parliament this morning (Thursday).

From his personal experience, Seripisut said that this approach to solving a problem will pave the way for misuse of public funds and corruption, adding that he doubts transparency of the army’s use of funds in procuring too many trucks.

He also warned that the army’s interference in cargo delivery, even if it is just a contingency plan to ease a problem, may violate the Constitution, which prevents the state from doing business in competition with the private sector.

The opposition party leader asked why the price of fuel, including diesel fuel, in Thailand is expensive, even though Thailand has several oil rigs in the Gulf of Thailand.

He also said that, if he were Prime Minister Prayut, he would have resigned.