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'Budget woes' if govt delayed

IF A NEW government cannot be formed within one year, Thailand could face problems with its budgetary spending as a caretaker government would have no authority over the budget for fiscal 2015, Budget Bureau director Somsak Chotrattanasiri said.

In addition, the Election Commission has limited authority to allow budgetary spending by the caretaker government, he said.

If the general election were to be delayed, this could lead to difficulties in preparing a budget for fiscal 2015, as the budget period for fiscal 2014 ends next September. Total expenditure in the 2014 budget is set at Bt2.525 trillion, of which regular expenditure is Bt2.02 trillion and investment expenditure Bt442 billion.

Under the constitution, the caretaker government can only use the regular budget to pay the monthly salaries of civil servants, which accounts for only half of the total regular budget. It would mean the government only has authority for six months spending (from October 2014 to March 2015)

However, unless the government is formed within six months, the bureau will have to regulate additional conditions but the bureau cannot exceed the budget of fiscal 2014.

"The government cannot withdraw the budget for more than one year. We have to launch a new budget within one year of the end of fiscal 2014," he said.

Somsak said that the Election Commission can allow the caretaker government expenditure from the central budget, reserve fund, civil servants reshuffle, expenditure for economic security and the expenditure for the public.

The caretaker government cannot withdraw funds for new investments unless they are for projects already signed and those contracts are in the obligated budget for 2014. The bureau has prepared the budget for fiscal 2015 before a new government is formed. The agency along with the ministries is finalising regular expenditure and the initial investment budget.

"We have a draft budget covering more than 70 per cent of total budget for fiscal 2015 in order to help the new government smoothly run the country," he said.


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