6 June 2024

The House of Representatives today (Wednesday) began the second and final readings of the budget bill for the 2021 fiscal year.

The debate is scheduled to end tomorrow, but could be extended into Friday.

The budget, originally set at 3.3 trillion baht, has been trimmed to 3.28 trillion baht by the bi-partisan House Budget Scrutiny Committee, with the funds allocated to the Defence Ministry being cut by 7.788 billion baht, the largest reduction of any ministry.

Other ministries to see their budgets trimmed include the Interior Ministry, 3.863 billion baht, the Education Ministry, 1.853 billion baht and the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovations, 1.208 billion baht. The Local Administration Organization has also had its budget cut, by 1.796 billion baht.

The Interior Ministry is, however, allocated an additional 10.656 billion baht, to fund allowances for elderly people and the disabled. Offices related to the courts of justice, work related to personnel in the public sector and the Revolving Fund are allocated an additional 509 million baht, 5.679 billion baht and 1.083 billion baht respectively.

The opposition chief whip, Mr. Suthin Klangsaeng, said today that a total of 75 opposition MPs will join the debate.  Each MP will be given seven minutes to speak, he said, adding that three days might not be enough and, if so, the Opposition would ask for more time.

In today’s debate, Democrat MP Kiart Sitthi-amorn asked the Government to revise its budgeting method, noting that it does not reflect the reality of a substantial drop in revenue collection, which may drive public debt through the 60% ceiling.

With an estimated 230 billion baht revenue shortfall, Kiart said he wondered how and where the Government will find the funding to fill the gap and whether it would increase the public sector borrowing requirement (PSBR).