Thailand’s Lower House passes first reading of 2023 budget bill

After three days of debate and last-minute behind-the-scenes lobbying, to convince dissenting MPs from smaller parties to support the government, the 3.18 trillion baht budget bill for the 2023 fiscal year comfortably passed its first reading in the Lower House early Friday morning, with 278 votes for, 192 against and two abstentions.

The House of Representatives then set up a 72-member budget scrutiny committee, to vet the bill within 30 days, with the first meeting scheduled on Monday.

In his closing speech, the opposition chief whip and deputy leader of the Pheu Thai party, Suthin Klangsaeng, said he was disappointed with the budget bill because the bulk of the money is allocated to permanent expenditure, leaving very little for investment to generate revenue for the state.

He also said the bill was prepared with the old mind set, without taking into account the changing situation. The bill, he added, does not offer any hope for the people.

In his closing speech, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha thanked the MPs for approving the bill and promised that his government will make careful use of the limited budget.

He said that the overwhelming support for the bill reflects the increased stability of the government, but cautioned that the vote today will not necessarily mean that it will be repeated in the forthcoming censure debate against the government.


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