11 July 2024

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha explained today (Wednesday) to MPs, particularly those of the coalition Bhumjaithai Party, that he diverted Public Health Ministry funding, for the procurement and management of COVID-19 vaccines, to the Central Fund, which is under his direct supervision, for ease of use in emergency.

Addressing lawmakers on the last day of the three-day debate on the 3.1-trillion-baht public sector spending bill for the 2022 fiscal year, the prime minister said that nobody, himself included, knows when the fight against the contagion will be over and how much money will be needed claiming, therefore, that it was more appropriate to move the vaccine funding from the Public Health Ministry to the Central Fund.

He explained that the vaccine funding comes from two sources, borrowing and the Central Fund so, when there is an urgent need for more vaccines, money can be disbursed from either source.

Although the Central Fund is under his supervision, the prime minister assured that money spent is subject to examination and tight controls.

During the budget debate, some Bhumjaithai MPs criticized the Budget Bureau and the National Economic and Social Development Council for slashing the Public Health Ministry’s budget, including funding for the procurement and management of vaccines. MP for Uthai Thani province, Chada Thaiseth, even urged Bhumjaithai Party Leader and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul to consider pulling the party out of the governing coalition.

The prime minister insisted that he had no problems with Mr. Anutin and that they are in regular contact, especially under the present circumstances.