25 May 2024

Opposition and Pheu Thai party leader Sompong Amornvivat has criticized the government’s 3.1 trillion baht budget for the 2022 fiscal year as being unrealistic and for failing to reflect the real situation on the ground, where many people in the country are suffering from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his opening speech of the budget bill debate in parliament today, he said he had the impression that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was living in another world when the budget bill was being drawn up, where everything seems to be normal, which is different from the real world of the Thai people.

He said that the opposition could not let the bill to go through the House because it does not prioritise the problems facing the country. For instance, the budget allocated for the Ministry of Public Health has been slashed by about 4 billion baht for the first time in 12 years, while the budget for the Defence Ministry is 50 billion baht more than that of the Public Health Ministry, despite the fact that the latter is on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19.

He also criticized the government for the substantial cut in budget for the Labour Ministry and the Ministry of Social Development and Human Dignity, both of which are responsible for the wellbeing of bulk of the population.

Lack of vision in budgetary planning and poor financial management regarding public debt, which has now reached its limits, meaning the government cannot borrow any more, are also blamed for the opposition’s refusal to approve the budget, said Mr. Sompong.

In his opening speech, the prime minister said that the budget bill was formulated with five strategies in mind, among them improvement of the quality of life and environment, national security, the boosting of Thailand’s competitiveness, development and improvement of the capabilities of human resources, the creation of opportunities and social equality and development of the public sector management system.

He also said that the budget bill was formulated on the assumption that Thailand’s economic growth is predicted to be 2.5-3.5%, due to a global economic recovery, mass vaccinations and distribution of vaccines in developed economies, and easing of restrictions in several countries.

He admitted, however, that there might be some risks or limitations which could impact Thailand’s economic recovery, such as uncertainties about the spread of COVID-19 in Thailand and other countries, as well as the anticipated slow recovery of the tourism sector.

He assured that public debt, estimated at about 8.47 trillion baht at the end of March, accounts for 54.3% of GDP, and is well under the legal limit of 60%.