11 July 2024

The Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) has sought approval for a Bt350 million budget for activities and projects which have nothing to do with national security, Move Forward MP for Bangkok, Chayaphon Satondee claimed today.

During the first day of debate on the second reading of the 2024 Budget Bill, the MP admitted that ISOC’s budget is very difficult analyse, because the officials concerned often cannot give any information or clarify the reasons for the budget.

He cited two examples. First, Bt10.5 million is allocated to promote political development and national unity and, second, there is a request for Bt33 million to promote the security of key national institutions.

When pressed for an explanation about the two projects by the Budget Scrutiny Committee, he said ISOC officials failed to provide an explanation.

Pressed again, they said that the budget is to be used to hold “talking shops” among community leaders, said the MP, adding that he does not see how these talking shops have anything to do with the maintenance of domestic security.

Then, there is the project for the maintenance of military hardware, estimated at Bt120 million. Chayaphon said ISOC’s main function is to coordinate with local agencies and it has no military equipment of its own.

The Bt345.6 million sought by ISOC to boost the efficiency of the state in driving its policies includes Bt190 million for 12 months of chartered flights, said the MP.

He wonders why ISOC has to charter flights from a private firm.

He said he is, however, only seeking to cut ISOC’s budget by Bt23.5 million, instead of the whole amount requested by ISOC.

Another Move Forward MP, Sirikanya Tansakul, said she seeks to cut the Bt3.48 trillion budget for 2024 by only about Bt30 billion, on the grounds that, in reality, the Budget Bureau has already allowed the government to advance about Bt1.8 trillion for use while the budget bill is pending in parliament.

She blamed the slow disbursement of the budget on the government’s inefficiency, saying that, by March 15, the government managed to disburse only Bt155 billion for investment, instead of Bt600 billion as planned.

Sukanya said that the government deserves to have the budget slashed due to its inefficient disbursement.

She also said that the government’s projection of revenue collection may not be right, because the government has introduced several tax cuts, such as cut in withholding tax for share trading, an excise tax cut and cut in revenue to be sent to the state coffers by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT).

She noted that, if there is as shortfall in revenue, the government will be required to borrow to meet the shortfall, estimated at Bt693 billion, which will drive public debt closer to the limits.