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Govt slashes BMA subsidy by up to Bt20bn

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration's government subsidy for next year has been slashed by more than Bt20 billion, and the agency needs to consult with the Finance Ministry to "discuss future budget allocation policies", city clerk Charoenrat Chootikarn said yesterday.



Speaking after yesterday's meeting of permanent secretaries of key ministries related to the government's 2013 budget, Assawat Abhaiwongse, a senior adviser to the BMA, said the city administration had been allotted Bt14.42 billion of the Bt34.35 billion it had sought in government subsidy.

He said the Pheu Thai-led government was making a grave mistake by slashing the budget and undermining the performance of the Democrat-led BMA for political gains.

"The BMA is in the process of discussing the matter with the Finance Ministry to find solutions in future budget allocation policies," Charoenrat said without elaborating.

However, in response to Assawat's statement, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said the government had no reason to slash the budget and that it was rather a work process that resulted in the reduction of the subsidy. "It is the amount earmarked for BMA policies that has been trimmed rather than costs for existing BMA projects," she said, without providing details.

She said Bangkok was the capital, and hence required special attention from the government, adding that she welcomed yesterday's special meeting of permanent secretaries of key ministries, including Charoenrat.

Assawat said the BMA's request for Bt11.97 billion for education had been slashed by Bt6.973 billion, while local administrative bodies under the Interior Ministry had been granted what they had asked for. In fact, he said, the Interior Ministry had been granted a 40-per-cent increase in government subsidy this year alone, while the amount granted to the BMA had been increased by less than 10 per cent every year.

The meeting also discussed the BMA's flood-prevention measures, which Charoenrat said were on schedule, and the BMA's plans to implement four long-term projects to increase efficiency of flood drainage, which may be affected by the slash of the subsidy.

At the meeting, Yingluck said she expected the BMA's flood-related projects, especially dredging of waterways and roadside drains, to be completed by September as scheduled in order to prepare for the peak of the wet season in October.


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