11 July 2024

Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin said today that he was totally at loss about what to do if the budget bill for the 2020 fiscal year is declared null and void by the Constitutional Court.

More than 90 government and opposition MPs have signed a letter, addressed to House Speaker Chuan Leekpai, asking the Constitutional Court to determine the legal status of the bill, after it was found that at least two government Bhumajthai MPs had allowed their colleagues to cast their votes in favour of the bill while they were absent from parliament.

Chuan earlier said that an MP who allowed his or her colleague to cast her vote was wrong, even if he or she was in parliament at the time.

Somsak said there will be a further delay in the disbursement of the budget, especially for investment and that those delays will have extensive negative effects.

He disclosed that some of his friends in the construction business are complaining that they have to get commercial loans and pay interest because payments from the government are overdue, adding that he hopes the Constitutional Court will speed up delivering its ruling on the issue of proxy voting.

Meanwhile, Pheu Thai party secretary-general Anudit Nakhontap warned Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to not protect a government Palang Pracharat MP, who is alleged to have let a colleague cast a vote on their behalf due insufficient card readers.

He told the Prime Minister not to rely too much on the advice of Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngarm, the Government’s chief legal advisor, who recently commented that a previous ruling by the charter court on proxy voting could not be used as a precedent in the current case.

Anudit said that there are still options for the Government to disburse budget ahead of the charter court issuing its ruling.

He warned, however, that the Prime Minister will be held accountable politically if he ignores the problem of proxy voting, which allegedly involved four government MPs, including one from Palang Pracharat, instead of two as originally reported.