No political games in budget debate, senior Democrat vows

national August 13, 2012 00:00

By The Nation

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The Democrats will not transform the budget debate, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, into a political game as has been alleged by the ruling party, Democrat MP Theptai Senapong said yesterday

"There is no need to disobey the rules since the opposition will have at least three debates: the budget, the job performance and the censure to grill the government,” he said.

Theptai said the opposition lawmakers would focus on questioning why the government appeared to have slashed the funds allocated for independent organisations.
The lopsided budget raised a suspicion about a hidden agenda to revamp the independent organisations, seen as a thorn in the government’s side, he said. 
The opposition had no plans to block or delay the passage of the Budget Bill, hence there was no justification for the ruling Pheu Thai Party to form a team responsible for protesting the speeches on the floor, because this would unnecessarily disrupt the debate, he said.
Commenting on the Cabinet line-up, he said he suspected Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her brother Thaksin still had differing opinions on the matter.
Thaksin wanted to shuffle the Cabinet but it so happened that his favourite candidates would replace those favoured by Yingluck, he said.
He added that the opposition did not want to see a new ministerial line-up before the censure debate. So long as Yingluck kept incompetent ministers, the opposition would have a field day after lodging the no-confidence motion, he said.
Ministers in charge of the rice-pledging scheme should not exit before the grilling to expose their involvement in massive corruption, he said.
The Abac Poll released a survey outcome indicating about one in two people wanted Yingluck to handle her own rebuttals in the censure debate instead of delegating other ministers to answer the opposition on her behalf.
About four in five people said the censure debate should focus on rising prices, drug trafficking, access to capital, social divisions, compensation payments for victims of natural calamities and southern violence.
Almost nine in 10 people said they expected the censure to lead to fresh ideas on problem solving rather than a collapse of government.
Former prime minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said a number of opinion polls indicated the people’s satisfaction with the government’s performance over the past year.
Chavalit said despite its popularity, the government still had some flaws, particularly its inability to quell the violence in the southernmost provinces.
“In my opinion, the government is just focusing on organisation formation to deal with the southern strife, but this is not right because it neglects trying to win the hearts of the other side,” he said.
He urged the authorities to gauge and understand the true public sentiment in order to fulfil the people’s aspirations in the southernmost provinces. 

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