THE CABINET yesterday passed a Bt3.2-trillion budget for fiscal 2020 starting October this year, with a deficit of Bt450 billion, while the investment budget has been boosted by Bt42 billion.
Deputy Finance Minister Wisudhi Srisuphan said that the total budget amount is 6.7 per cent higher than that of the previous fiscal year. The Thai economy is also forecast to expand in a range of 3.5-4.5 per cent with headline inflation at 0.8-1.8 per cent next year.
Of the approved budget, 73.7 per cent, or about Bt2.35 trillion, will go towards fixed expenses, while 21.6 per cent, or Bt691 billion, will be for investment.
The investment amount is 6.5 per cent, or Bt42 billion, higher than the previous year.
About 2.7 per cent, or Bt87.68 billion, will be used for repayment of the principal, while 2 per cent, or Bt62.7 billion, will be used as expenditure to offset the nation’s treasury reserves.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet estimates tax collection in fiscal year 2020 at Bt2.75 trillion, up 7.8 per cent from fiscal 2019, which is estimated at Bt2.55 trillion.
At the same meeting, the Cabinet extended free visa on arrival (VOA) for tourists from 20 countries and one economy until April 30 this year to help promote Thai tourism during the Chinese New Year in February and Songkran Festival in mid-April. The VOA fee is Bt2000 per tourist.
Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat said that as a number of tourists are expected to travel to Thailand during these festivals, the Cabinet has extended the waiver of VOA fee from January 13 this year to April 30.
Extending the visa waiver will lead to the loss of about Bt2.14 billion in revenue, but will generate an estimated income of Bt6.42 billion from the increased number of tourists visiting the country, he said.
Foreign tourists, particularly those arriving by chartered flights, are expected to plan their trips to Thailand.
The Cabinet also approved a budget of Bt24.34 billion for three projects to develop the country’s water system.
The first is a water drainage canal – at Bang Baan-Bang Sai Ayudhaya – at a cost of Bt21 billion, which will take five years and be completed by 2023, Cabinet spokesman Puttipong Punnakanta said yesterday.
Two floodgate systems will also be built over a five-year period, from this year until 2023. The one in Sakon Nakhon province will be built at a cost of Bt1.249 billion while Bt2.1 billion has been allocated for the system at Lam Num Pung-Num Kam in Sakon Nakhon province.