By Thai Newsroom Reporters
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES is spending three days in a row beginning today (May 31) debating the 2023 budget bill designed by the Palang Pracharath-led coalition in its fourth or final year in government.
The 3.18 trillion baht budget for next fiscal year is expected to sail through the principle approval stage with yea votes to be cast by coalition MPs immediately after a marathon House debate which will end on Thursday. The majority MPs on the coalition side to vote for the 2023 budget bill will very likely include those of Thai Economic Party, led by MP Thammanat Prompao, and those of the splinter parties, most of which only have one legislator each.
The Pheu Thai-led opposition bloc has resolved to cast nay votes against the 3.18 trillion baht budget bill on which Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha spent 72 minutes reading out statements prepared by government officials to the barely attentive audience in the House chamber.
Opposition leader/Pheu Thai party leader Chonlanan Srikaew alleged that the Prayut government has merely looked to do undue favours for a certain coalition partner to whom sort of a “sizeable ransom” would be paid in exchange for the planned prolonging of Prayut’s rule beyond the next general election.
The political fate of the coup leader-turned-premier who has earlier publicly said he has intended to prolong his rule for another five years is yet to be determined by the Constitutional Court as to whether a maximum of eight years of his rule as provided by law will have been completely finished by the upcoming August.
Chonlanan apparently referred to coalition partner Bhumjaithai Party which currently takes the helm of the Ministry of Transport, the agency in charge of multiple infrastructure and logistics development projects.
The Pheu Thai leader charged that such budgeting and fiscal policies will repeatedly fail to salvage the people from sustained economic woes, given the allegedly erroneous, inefficient performances of the Prayut government.
Move Forward party leader Pita Limjaroenrat compared the deficit-laden budget to “a sickly elephant who cannot adapt itself” to current environment, given the fact as much as 70% of the 3.18 trillion baht budget will go for expenditure on government personnel pays, debt repayments and other bureaucratic outlays which, he said, will not involve future investment or innovation schemes.
For instance, Pita said, the government will allocate an inadequate sum of 2.7 billion baht in funding for the promotion of three million-plus SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises) nationwide after they have experienced hard times going through pandemic and economic crises over the past few years.
The 3.18 trillion baht budget bill which the House will spend a maximum period of 105 days deliberating and scrutinising until it reaches its third or final stage of House approval and is then forwarded to the Senate for similar legislative procedures accounts for 17.79% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and 85 billion baht more than the 2022 budget, marking a 2.74% increase. The 2023 budget will see 695 billion baht in deficit, given an estimated 2.49 trillion baht in revenues throughout next fiscal year.
Thailand’s economic growth is calculated to rise 3.2% to 4.2% in next fiscal year, compared to 3.5% to 4.5% in current fiscal year, whilst inflation is anticipated in a range of 0.5% to 1.5% in next fiscal year, compared to 1.5% to 2.5% in current fiscal year.
The 2023 budget includes 590 billion baht for the Central Fund at disposal of the premier, 325 billion baht for the Ministry of Education, 197 billion baht for the Ministry of Defence, 180 billion baht for the Ministry of Transport, 156 billion baht for the Ministry of Public Health and 126 billion baht for the Ministry of Agriculture & Cooperatives, among others.
Top: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at the Parliament today. Photo: Matichon
Home Page: Opposition leader/Pheu Thai party leader Chonlanan Srikaew. Photo: Thansettakij