11 July 2024

The Government’s 3.2 trillion baht budget bill for 2020 fiscal year passed the first reading in the House of Representatives Saturday night, after three days of debate, with 251 MPs voting for and all 234 Opposition MPs abstaining.

The Opposition’s chief whip, Mr. Suthin Klangsaeng, said in his closing speech that Opposition MPs found it difficult to vote for the bill while not wanting to vote against it, because that may have had negative effects on the country and the people.

“In doing so, we have given the Government a chance,” said Mr. Suthin, adding that the Opposition expects the Government to act on its recommendations to change budgetary allocations “otherwise, we reserve the right to vote against the bill in the third and final reading.”

He suggested that the Government should review the defence budget which, he said, reflects Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s obsolete military mentality and the Government’s indifference to overall economic and manpower development.

He cited the case of Japan after the Second World War, saying that the Japanese substantially cut defence spending and concentrated on growing the economy.

Mr. Suthin accused the Prime Minister of being incapable of taking a holistic view of Thailand’s problems.  He said he is not hopeful that pressing problems can be resolved because of the way the national budget has been allocated.

The Opposition chief whip noted that several other countries are also facing economic slowdowns, “but they only lose their balance a little bit, unlike Thailand which is about to face major problems because its economy has been hardest hit.”

He also doubted the government’s increased revenue projections, noting that this is unlikely when set against the reality of an economic slump, falling exports and tourism slowdown.