Thai government’s budget bill for 2024 fiscal year under scrutiny

Picture courtesy of Towfiqu barbhuiya, Unsplash

The Thai government’s budget bill for the fiscal year 2024 is under scrutiny as Sanphet Boonyamanee, a Democrat MP for Songkhla, raises concerns over major budget cuts and potential misrepresentation of off-budget funds. He reveals that despite the government’s request for 3.48 trillion baht (US$ 99,917,725,200) for the 2024 fiscal year, state agencies had initially asked for up to 5.8 trillion baht (US$ 166,529,542,000).

“There’s a considerable reduction of 2.32 trillion baht (US$ 66,611,816,800) or about 40% in the budget allocations sought by state agencies,” he noted. “Regrettably, due to these budget constraints, the issues troubling our citizens will remain unresolved in the 2024 fiscal year.”

Sanphet also drew attention to the off-budget revenue, which is separate from the regular budget and aids in maintaining the financial independence of certain state enterprises and special funds. The government reportedly has 2.40 trillion baht (US$ 68,908,776,000) in off-budget revenue, exceeding the Finance Ministry’s projection by 295.8 billion baht (US$ 8,493,006,642), leading him to question, “Is the government trying to make its financial standing look better than it is?”

He clarified, “Off-budget money is not the government’s, it belongs to those agencies that are allowed to hold it for spending, such as state-run schools, hospitals, or other funds.”

In another development, Sirikanya Tansakun, Deputy Leader and list MP of the Move Forward Party, contested the proposal to appoint Deputy Prime Minister Phumtham Wechayachai as chairman of a House committee entrusted with scrutinising the budget’s second reading.

Sirikanya questioned, “Phumtham is in charge of security affairs, not economic ones. Will he give any special instructions as committee chairman? Is there any political agenda behind this?”

The budget bill, originally set to be effective from October 1, experienced delays following the election as the coalition government needed time to establish itself. The first reading debate is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, with a vote to follow the next day, leading to the formation of a 72-member House committee to examine the bill.

Thailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

Related Articles