Thailand: Calls grow for budget refocus

  • The opposition will attempt to scale back funds earmarked for non-essential construction projects as well as defence spending during scrutiny of the THB3.3tr fiscal 2021 budget bill which passed its first reading in the House on 3 Jul 20.
  • After the vote, which the bill passed with 273 votes in favour, 200 against and three abstentions, a 72-member committee was formed to examine the spending plan.
  • Worawat Ua-apinyakul, a former MP for the Pheu Thai Party and a member of the vetting panel, said on 6 Jul 20 any spending that falls short of stimulating the economy should be dropped because people’s livelihoods must come first in the first post-Covid-19 budget.
  • The Defence Ministry’s proposed THB223.4bn budget allocation was widely debated during the first reading, with the opposition urging the cancellation of procurements of weaponry, including submarines, in order to divert those funds towards tackling the country’s economic problems.
  • Pol Col Thawee Sodsong, secretary-general of the opposition Prachachat Party, said the 2021 budget bill has numerous flaws and allocations for investments are insufficient with fixed expenditure accounting for 76.5% of the total spending plan.
  • He pledged to closely scrutinise the bill and ensure that it will address the public health crisis and its economic fallout.

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