March 14, 2014 00:00 By Wichit Chaitrong,
Bureau projects Bt500 billion to give the next government more flexibility in investment plan; Pheu Thai shrugs off calls for govt to take responsibility for 'unconstitutional' loan bill
The national budget deficit is projected to hit Bt500 billion in fiscal 2015, double this year’s level, the Budget Bureau will propose to the next government, after the charter court ruled the current administration’s Bt2-trillion loan bill unconstitutional.
A deficit equivalent of 4 per cent of gross domestic product will likely be designed to accommodate the government’s investment plan more flexibly. This means the government will be able to raise loans of up to Bt500 billion.
Somsak Chotrattanasiri, budget director of the bureau, said yesterday that expenditure for 2015 would include some investments, part of the scrapped Bt2-trillion loan bill for infrastructure development, increasing the deficit for 2015 to Bt500 billion when compared with the Bt250 billion in 2014.
“How much the investment budget should be is up to the next government. But it will be on the condition that the borrowing will not exceed 20 per cent of the expenditure budget,” he said.
However, an increase in the deficit would defer the plan to balance the budget by 2017.
Somsak said the bureau has already prepared the estimated expenditure for 2015 before conferring with three other agencies – the Finance Ministry, the National Economic and Social Development Board, and the Bank of Thailand.
The expenditure budget for 2015 was proposed at Bt2.7 trillion, up Bt200 billion from this year.
“When altering the investment plan, the development time frame will be stretched to 10 years from seven years of the investment plan under the Bt2-trillion loan bill,” Somsak said.
In normal circumstances, the Cabinet would have passed the expenditure budget plan in May before seeking approval of the House of Representatives so as to become effective in October.
On Wednesday, the Constitutional Court voted 9-0 to rule that the content of the Bt2-trillion borrowing bill was unconstitutional. The judges voted 6-2, with one judge abstaining, over the bill being passed in procedural violation of the charter, after some ruling-coalition MPs voted with others’ identity cards.
Calls grew yesterday for the caretaker government to take responsibility for the court verdict against its borrowing bill.
Senator Paiboon Nititawan said the administration of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra should take responsibility, as it was the government that had proposed the bill.
The anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee yesterday also made a similar call. PDRC spokesman Akanat Promphan said Yingluck and her government had yet to show any sense of responsibility for their proposed law being found by the court to be in violation of the Constitution.
“Yingluck has not only denied responsibility but also blamed others for the wrongdoing,” he said. “Still, she is calling for justice.”
The ruling Pheu Thai Party yesterday said the government did not need to take responsibility because the bill had already been approved by Parliament.
Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit said the calls for the government to take responsibility were just a political game aimed at finding fault with the prime minister and her Cabinet.