House budget panel reallocates THB7.6 billion to 10 projects


A special House committee has finished vetting the fiscal 2023 budget bill and has reallocated 7.6 billion baht to new agencies.

The committee spokesman, Banyat Jettanachan (Democrat-Rayong), said the panel held its final meeting on Tuesday and endorsed the changes made to the bill and also endorsed the minutes of the panel and its final report on the 2023 budget.

The budget bill is seeking 3.185 trillion baht for government spending.

Banyat said the ad hoc panel would submit the vetted bill back to the House speaker to put it on the agenda so that the bill would be deliberated in the second and third readings on August 17, 18 and 19.

The bill’s final reading cannot be later than August 19, because the Constitution requires the House to finish its deliberations within 105 days of the bill being sent to the House.

Banyat said the ad hoc panel has trimmed down budget requests of various government agencies with a total value of 7.644 billion baht.

The top three agencies that saw the biggest cuts to their requests were:

— Defence Ministry with a cut of 2.778 billion baht

— Local administration organisations with a budget cut of 742.2 million baht

— Education Ministry with a cut of 737.486 million baht.

Their total of 7.644 billion baht has been redistributed to 10 projects, which the panel saw as needing more budget support:

 The Farmers Rehabilitation and Development Fund (500 million baht)

 A project to increase services of health clinics of 49 provincial administrative organisations (1.84 billion baht)

 A project to provide education subsidy to young students (2.359 billion baht)

 Rice Department project for farmers to change to better rice seeds (1.02 billion baht)

 Operation cost of the Office of Attorney-General (230 million baht)

 Operation cost of the Courts of Justice (192.28 million baht)

 Operation cost of the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (154.123 million baht)

 Personnel recruitment of the Office of the Election Commission (81.577 million baht)

 Fund for development of officials and personnel of the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre (8.2 million baht).

Banyat said the state agencies whose budget requests were not cut included the Foreign Ministry, the Thai Red Cross Society and the office of personal servants of His Majesty the King.

Banyat said the panel’s report noted that the government’s initial budget projections did not respond with the recovering economy of the country.

The report also recommended that the government seek more revenue channels, including collecting land and heritage taxes, taxes on stock trading and windfall taxes.

In the past, MPs were often criticised by academics for the use of budget trimming method by the budget panel to shell out money to their constituents in the provinces through various projects. Once, a charter even barred MPs from proposing or reallocating budget from the trimmed-down amount.