By Erich Parpart
Budget Bureau director Somsak Chotrattanasiri said after the Cabinet meeting yesterday that the investment budget for 2016 was set at Bt543.635 billion, which is Bt94.16 billion or 20.9 per cent more than in fiscal 2015.
Fixed expenditure under the 2016 budget will amount to around Bt2.101 trillion, which is Bt72.977 billion or 3.6 per cent more than the previous year’s.
"The targets for disbursement rates have yet to be set by the Budget Bureau, since the office is waiting for government agencies to submit detailed cost estimations, site plans and timelines for their expected spending, especially on investment," he said.
"The government will be more ready this fiscal year and the plan is to get all the contracts signed within the first fiscal quarter," he added.
Somsak also said most of the investment budget for fiscal 2016, which accounted for 20 per cent of the total budget, would be concentrated on projects for water management, basic infrastructure, road connectivity and school buildings.
The 2016 budget, if approved by the National Legislative Assembly, will increase by Bt145 billion or 5.6 per cent when compared with the current 2015 fiscal year budget, which stands at Bt2.575 trillion. With this fiscal year’s revenue targeted at Bt2.325 trillion, the expected budget deficit is Bt250 billion.
The 2016 state budget will account for 20.4 per cent of gross domestic product, which is the same as the 2015 budget when it was introduced.
The 2016 fiscal budget year begins on October 1, 2015.
Around Bt520 billion of the 2016 budget will be allocated to the Education Ministry, Bt402 billion to the central budget, Bt343 billion to the Interior Ministry and Bt207 billion to the Defence Ministry. The budget for provinces and provincial groups is Bt25.199 billion, up 41.7 per cent; for the Transport Ministry Bt138.886 billion, up 25.4 per cent; for the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry Bt36.420 billion, up 20.4 per cent; for government agencies not related to any ministry Bt120.675 billion, up 14.5 per cent; and for the Public Health Ministry Bt125.146 billion, an increase of 14.1 per cent.
Meanwhile, Industry Minister Chakramon Phasukvanich said he expected the Manufacturing Production Index in the first quarter of 2015 to be better than in same period last year, as February’s MPI edged up for the first time in 23 months, by 3.6 per cent. However, he said the MPI for April would fall because of the long holidays.
The actual MPI in March has yet to be released. The Finance Ministry aims to increase the number of insured rice fields under the crop insurance programme to 1.5 million rai (240,000 hectares) this year and to 3 million rai in 2016. It believes that using proper financial instruments to manage risk will help rice farmers reduce uncovered losses and other predicaments from natural disasters.
Around 800,000 rai of rice fields were covered by government insurance last year, a small fraction of the 63 million rai of paddy fields in the country.
Finance Minister Sommai Phasee said the budget for the compensation of insured rice fields in the 2015 cultivation year was set at Bt476 million.