September 19, 2013 00:00 By Somroutai Sapsomboon
All sides rally their forces for debate
THE IMPORTANCE of the House deliberations in the second reading of the Bt2-trillion borrowing bill for development of transport infrastructure is reflected in the postponement of the mobile Cabinet meeting scheduled in Lop Buri.
The Cabinet meeting was deferred so that the government could devote all its resources to defending the bill.
While the government whip has set the debate for only today and tomorrow, the opposition says that timeframe would be impossible.
The atmosphere of the debate might be similar to that of the joint meeting considering constitutional amendment that took 12 days to finish deliberation of the Article 13 bill.
The Bt2-trillion borrowing bill has 19 Articles, while 143 MPs have submitted motions to alter the law draft.
The proposed changes range from very small issues or sarcastic messages to serious issues like the measures to prevent corruption.
MP Boonyod Sooktinthai proposed that the name of the bill be changed to “The Bill to Authorise the Finance Ministry to Borrow Bt2 trillion for the Development of National Transportation Infrastructure in All Aspects up to 50 per cent of Gross Domestic Product.”
MP Chuti Krairiksh proposed an addition to the bill’s name: “…topping up the [national] Debt Burden for 50 Years.”
MP Jua Rachasi, who is a committee member, proposed “…according to necessity and justice” be added to the bill’s title.
MP Watchara Petthong added: “…without Thinking of the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy.”
MP Sathit Pitutecha wants to add “…for Excessive Use Without Monetary or Financial Discipline”, to the bill’s name.
Many Democrat MPs proposed an addition to the definition in Article 3 of the Bill that, “… the borrowing must be used according to the national strategies on transport-infrastructure, it must be according to the national anti-corruption laws.”
Boonyod said the bill should state that the authorities, according to this law, “must maintain monetary and financial discipline”.
He also added a clause in the bill saying the borrowed money must be used “for sustainable development of the country in every aspect, while the implementation is transparent and according to good governance”.
Patchara proposed that a national referendum be held.
Many Democrat MPs, including chief adviser Chuan Leekpai, proposed the definition of “projects” identified in the bill as the projects according to the strategies listed in the law’s appendix.
The MPs also proposed the roles of private organisations recruited to take part in the fight against corruption. They also proposed agreements by related organisations to work transparently and to declare information. They also require declarations of contract details, including procurement plans, scope of work, name lists and the cost bid by each contender, the winning contractors as well as the contract details.
If the agencies involved or contractors refuse to give such information, the private organisations working as anti-corruption groups should be allowed to report and propose contract voidance.
Besides, the MPs also proposed the change of the person in charge of the law from the finance minister to the prime minister.
Furthermore, some MPs proposed changes to the money, from small amounts, and to changing 13-digit to 12-digit amounts. Some changed the period of the loans.
The opposition has announced it would do everything to oppose this law. If Parliament passes this law, it would move to petition the Constitutional Court to consider whether the law was constitutional.
The borrowing bill, which the government expects to be something to boast about and to attract votes in future election campaigns for years to come, is still up in the air.