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Agreement reached on Bt2.6-trillion fiscal budget for the next year; LPG price to rise

THE COUNTRY'S ruling junta is expected to deliver a Bt2.6-trillion fiscal 2015 budget, in which a Bt250-billion deficit has been set and Bt455 billion has been allocated for investments - including projects linked to feasibility studies.

Funds spent on infrastructure projects will be raised via loans.

The agreement was reached yesterday at a meeting of the Finance Ministry, the National Economic and Social Development Board, the Bank of Thailand and the Budget Bureau.

Somsak Chotrattanasiri, director of Budget Bureau, said the budget was based on an economic-growth forecast of 6.3 per cent and an inflation target of 2.3 per cent.

He said the Bt250-billion deficit would be the same as this year's.

If the budget gets final approval by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), it should be implemented on October 1 as scheduled.

Somsak said the allocation for investments was set at 17.5 per cent of the total budget, or Bt455 billion.

He said the investment element of the budget would need to be discussed in detail to ensure the spending would be in line with the country's economic road map.

"Under the fiscal 2015 investment budget, there will be some projects related to feasibility studies, including design work and expropriations, that were outlined in the Bt2-trillon loan bill for infrastructure projects," he said. He added that spending on projects that have undergone feasibility studies would be set at an appropriate amount, while the source of funds for investments in infrastructure projects would be loans.

However, Somsak said the bureau had already allocated the budget for three main portions - minimum regular, primary and obligatory spending, which accounted for 70 per cent of the total. The remaining budget (Bt780 billion) would be spent in line with the government's strategic plan.

"This portion will wait for the NCPO's decision, which will be sought from the Cabinet or the NCPO on July 15," Somsak said.

Because of the absence of a House of Representatives, the bureau has proposed that the NCPO form a committee to screen the budget allocations before it is forwarded to His Majesty for royal approval by September 22 and for announcement on October 1.

Fuel prices are urgent: Prajin

A re-jig of fuel prices - including liquefied petroleum gas, natural gas for vehicles and diesel - is an urgent matter, so the Energy Ministry will go ahead with a plan to increase LPG prices, which have to be raised by another Bt0.50 per kilogram this Sunday, from Bt22.63 at present.

This was announced by Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong, the junta's chief of economic affairs, after talks with Energy Ministry officials yesterday.

Energy policies and plans initiated before the NCPO seized control in a coup would be allowed to continue as long as they do not affect the economy, he said.

The NCPO will consider the appointment of the National Energy Policy Committee, the supreme body for the sector, next week, Prajin said.

In regard to the reshuffle of managers and the boards of state enterprises, Prajin said he would hold a meeting today with representatives from all 56 state enterprises.

"From a study, we've found there are 800 board members and 26 related laws. Hence there will have to be careful consideration and any conduct will follow the rules and regulations of the Stock Exchange of Thailand," he said.


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