6 June 2024

The newly appointed Deputy Minister of Finance, Krisada Chinavicharana, was a former top official at the Finance Ministry. Though familiar with the workings of the ministry as the former permanent secretary, Krisada might find his new assignment a whole new ball game. 

Krisada represents the United Thai Nation Party’s ministerial post quota in the Pheu Thai led-coalition government.

Krisada, who turned 60 on April 20, obtained a bachelor’s degree in law from Chulalongkorn University and graduated with a master’s in business administration from New Haven University in the United States.

Steady climb to the top

Krisada started his career as a civil servant at the Finance Ministry. He became director of the law division at the Fiscal Policy Office (FPO) and a first secretary (specialising in public finance) at the Thai embassy in London.

 

Later, he served as the director-general of the FPO, which is the fiscal planning arm of the Finance Ministry. The FPO undertakes comprehensive study and analysis and provides policy recommendations on fiscal matters, the financial system, savings, investment, macroeconomic and international economic policies. It also oversees, monitors, evaluates and reports the outcome of policies and measures implementation.

Before becoming the permanent secretary, the highest position, at the Finance Ministry, Krisada had served as director-general of the Excise and Customs departments, two of the three departments in charge of tax collections.

As a senior official, he was also a director at many state enterprises, including Airports of Thailand Pcl, Bangchak Corporation Pcl, BCPG Pcl, a subsidiary of Bangchak Corporation, Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, Aeronautical Radio of Thailand company and Krungthai Bank. He was also a director at specialised financial institutions, such as the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC).

Senior officials usually face criticism from taxpayers when they serve as directors of key state enterprises and receive perks rather than making any job commitment.

He was also a former director at the Bank of Thailand.

Krisada was appointed a member of the National Reform Steering Assembly by General Prayut Chan-o-cha in 2015, a year after Prayut had staged a coup to topple the government of Yingluck Shinawatra.

The current coalition government has a problem of legitimacy because of the role Parliament played in blocking the Move Forward Party from forming the government. The efforts of Move Forward, which had emerged as the party with the most number of seats in the 500-seat House of Representatives, was foiled by senators who were appointed by the junta leaders behind the 2014 military coup.

The machinations that led to the formation of the present coalition government may not be the ideal launch for Krisada’s political career.

Competent performer

Sommai Phasee, a former finance minister, said that Krisada used to work under his supervision and he was satisfied with Krisada’s performance during that period.

As Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is likely to find his hands full running the country, he is going to be heavily dependent on Krisada to run the ministry’s affairs and the economy, effectively acting as the finance minister.

Sommai believes that Krisada would do his duties diligently and could even represent Finance Minister Srettha when the PM cannot attend important international conferences.

Immediate challenges

Krisada’s most immediate challenge is to find funding for projects politicians had pledged during the election campaign.

It is not clear how the government aims to find funds for the 560-billion-baht digital wallet scheme. Coalition leader Pheu Thai Party had promised to give everyone aged 16 and above 10,000 baht through a digital wallet, aiming to stimulate the economy. He said the government could borrow money from the state-owned banks.

This proposed controversial cash handout came in for heavy criticism by almost all sections of the society. Observers believed the new government should divert funds to targeted groups rather than hand out cash to the rich and poor alike.

Due to his experience in public finance, Krisada is also likely to play a key role in formulating the expenditure budget for fiscal year 2024, which has been delayed due to a previous political deadlock in forming a new government after the general election on May 14.

He said four key institutions would meet to discuss the next expenditure plan after the government finishes presenting to Parliament its policy statement on September 11 and 12.

In the medium term, Krisada will have to find tax revenue to finance the rising cost of social welfare, as well as public investment. He may be forced to increase tax rates to find additional revenue to cover the widening government budget deficit and to keep public debt at the safe level of 60 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). Currently the public debt is about 62 per cent of GDP.

By Thai PBS World’s Business Desk