Trillion baht loan not needed had there not been a COVID-19 pandemic – PM

Thailand’s Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, responded to Opposition claims today that his government has mismanaged the country’s economy, to the extent that it now must borrow 1.9 trillion baht, approximately US$9.8 billion, to cushion the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Responding to the criticism in Parliament, the Prime Minister clarified that only one trillion baht is to be borrowed by the Finance Ministry, and the remaining 900 billion baht are Bank of Thailand reserves, adding that the Government would not need to borrow so much if the global pandemic had not hit so hard.

He said that, for the past five years, the Government has been working hard to improve the country’s economy, which had already been impacted by a trade war between the United States and China before COVID-19 emerged.

He claimed, however, that Thailand’s fiscal position is quite strong, thanks to the competence of the people in charge of fiscal policy.

“I am sincere in my intention to address the problem. Can we cooperate with each other, under the present circumstances, until the situation returns to normal? Whatever the Government does, the Opposition always objects,” said the Prime Minister.

During the fourth day of the debate on the Government’s three executive decrees, including the one allowing the borrowing of a trillion baht, New Economic Party MP Mingkwan Saengsuwan accused the Government of gross economic mismanagement, claiming the administration has already spent 500 billion baht from the Central Fund in just the last two months, but it still needs to secure another trillion baht.

He said that previous governments also had to deal with epidemics, such as SARS and bird flu, but they managed to control the disease without the need to increase public sector borrowing by such an alarming amount.

He also accused the Government of not effectively addressing the COVID-19 crisis and its associated economic problems, citing long queues waiting to receive donations at food banks across the nation.

The New Economics Party MP demanded that a special House panel, to include outside experts, be formed to monitor the spending of the borrowed money, to ensure transparency and the efficacy of disbursements.

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