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NLA to put 2019 budget under the scanner

NLA to put 2019 budget under the scanner

WEDNESDAY, June 06, 2018

THE National Legislative Assembly (NLA) will today deliberate the junta government’s fifth annual budget proposal, which earmarks total spending of Bt3 trillion for the 2019 fiscal year that begins on October 1.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will spend about two hours clarifying the new budget proposal that projects a deficit of Bt450 billion.
The 2019 budget is about Bt100 billion more than the previous year, bringing total state spending under the National Council for Peace and Order-backed government to Bt13.8 trillion.
In the 2019 budget, the Education Ministry gets the biggest allocation of Bt489 billion, followed by a central budget of Bt468 billion, the Interior Ministry gets Bt373 billion, the Finance Ministry Bt242 billion, and the Defence Ministry Bt227 billion.
The 2019 allocation for the Defence Ministry is Bt5.2 billion more than in the previous year, bringing total spending by the Armed Forces to Bt949 billion since the coup.
The Defence Ministry’s budget includes spending on military equipment and payment of instalments for Chinese-made submarines.
In addition, the Defence Ministry has signed a letter of confirmation to buy a number of satellites from the US, worth more than Bt90 billion.
Surachai Liangboonlertchai, first vice president of the NLA, said about 20 NLA members have signed up for time slots to debate the proposed budget while Cabinet members are required to respond to questions from the floor.
The debate, which is expected to finish in one day, will likely cover the national reform agenda as well as the government’s much-heralded Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) investment programme.
The EEC project, which covers parts of Rayong, Chon Buri, and Chachoengsao provinces, is expected to attract massive public-private investment of up to Bt1.7 trillion over the next several years.
The EEC’s transport and other infrastructure projects include those for high-speed rail links to Suvarnabhumi, Don Muang, and U-tapao airports, as well as expansion of the Laem Chabang and Mab Ta Put seaports, while the private sector is expected to invest in a new generation of industries and businesses, including e-commerce and logistics, aviation and other sectors.
However, the government does not have the financial resources for investment, as seen in the proposed budget. Fixed expenditure for the next fiscal year amounts to Bt2.26 trillion, up 3.4 per cent from the previous year, and accounts for 75.4 per cent of the total budget, while investment spending totals Bt660 billion, accounting for 22 per cent of the total budget.
The 2019 budget includes Bt78 billion for debt repayment and new borrowings to finance the budget deficit of Bt450 billion.
Of the total budget, Bt838 billion is earmarked for the rebalancing and public sector reform agenda; Bt328 billion for national security, Bt406 billion for international competitiveness, Bt560 billion for human resource development, Bt397 billion for poverty reduction, and Bt117 billion for water resources management and sustainability.