Connect with us


Nation Analysis: High defense spending at expense of education, welfare



THE CONTROVERSIAL submarine deal has sparked public debate about the way the Thai Defense Ministry spends tax money on military hardware and other national-security projects. Many question whether such projects should take priority over education, public healthcare or improving the lives of the country’s millions of poor.

Since the coup in 2014, the budget allocated to the Defense Ministry has increased substantially. For the fiscal 2015 national budget, the first fully controlled by the junta, the ministry’s budget jumped to192.9 billion baht from 184.7 billion baht the year before. The defense budget was again raised substantially to 203.7 billion baht in fiscal 2016 and 221.7 billion for 2017.

Somchai Jitsuchon, research director at the Thailand Research Development Institute, says the priority should be solving the wide income gap between the rich and poor. Over the past three years, the junta-backed government has not put enough effort or resources into dealing with this issue, he notes.

According to the National Economic and Social Development Board, income disparity remains severe in Thailand. The top 10 per cent of earners got 35 per cent of total income in 2015, while the bottom 10 per cent got only 1.58 per cent. Meanwhile, the top 10 per cent own 60 percent of the country’s land while the bottom 40 per cent own only 1.2 per cent.

Low-income groups also cannot access high-quality education or healthcare services.

“Priority should be given to creating life opportunities for the poor,”Somchai says.

The Education Ministry often gets the biggest share of the annual budget, but highly talented teachers are hard to find, as most of them teach at elite schools in Bangkok. Moreover, a typical school does not have adequate educational materials to facilitate effective learning, so pupils end up in rote learning, which delivers poor performance in math and science and impairs a student’s ability to create, analyze and think.

Supachai Panitchpakdi, former chief of the World Trade Organisation, says Thailand should gain regional bargaining power by offering assistance to neighbouring countries. He praises the Neighbouring Countries Development Cooperation Agency, which over the past 12 years has granted soft loans to support infrastructure projects in seven countries.

He is concerned that Thailand and, even more so, richer countries are preoccupied with an arms race.

Sakon Waran-yuwattana, dean of Thammasat University’s faculty of economics, says he is worried about the benefits of arms purchases, as such hardware bought in the past at high cost was often unusable. “This is because there is no independent auditor supervising or evaluating the outcomes of [defense] spending. Other ministries also face a similar issue,” he laments.

Auditor-General Pisit Leelavachiropas, however, has tried to defend the purchase of a Chinese-made submarine, saying the Chinese government ‘guarantees’ that it will function properly.

Other key concerns are future obligations made by the Defense Ministry. For example, under the 2017 fiscal budget, total future obligations are now 105.5 billion baht, including the 13.5-billion submarine deal, on which instalments will be paid until 2023. The first payment of 700million is to be made this fiscal year.

The junta is now drafting the fiscal 2018 national budget, with initial plans to allocate 222.4 billion baht to the Defense Ministry, accounting for 7.7 per cent of the total 2.9-trillion baht government outlay.

— The Nation


Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Politics2 mins ago

No coup is being plotted in Thailand, insists Ministry of Defence

Environment4 mins ago

“Billy” murder suspect reinstated at Kaeng Krachan NP

Thailand18 mins ago

Woman’s body in luggage found floating in Mekong River

Sponsored20 hours ago

Segafredo Zanetti Coffee teamed up with Bangkok Airways and hosted “Bangkok Airways Surf Festival 2022”

Hot News58 mins ago

Nok Air cancels Nakhon Ratchasima-Chiang Mai flight routes

Thailand1 hour ago

Airports of Thailand reports 200% increase in traffic at Suvarnabhumi Airport

Entertainment1 hour ago

The tax returns don’t lie – Shakira prepares for court battle in Barcelona

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand1 hour ago

Thai mental health officials want psychiatric drugs listed as essential meds

Thailand2 hours ago

2 Thai knights in shining armour aid lost foreign child in Pattaya

Hot News2 hours ago

Chiang Mai’s famous giant panda turns 21 years old

Weather2 hours ago

Category 4 Hurricane Ian hits US state of Florida’s coast

Best of2 hours ago

5 suit tailors in Bangkok that’ll make you look dapper

Weather2 hours ago

Tropical Storm Noru hits northeast Thailand, 1 dead, 2 injured

Patong2 hours ago

American tourist allegedly assaulted outside Patong bar

Thailand3 hours ago

4,000 Evacuated as Typhoon Noru hits Thailand | GMT

Tourism3 hours ago

Thai Airways promotion to Fukuoka, Japan

Thailand1 year ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism2 years ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11