Thursday, November 21, 2019

Budget bill to reach Senate in February

Oct 20. 2019
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By The Nation

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Senators have set up an ad-hoc committee to study the budget bill for fiscal 2020, which was given first reading by the House of Representatives on Saturday (October 19). 

The draft bill is expected to come before the full Senate in February.

The lower house approved the Bt3.2-trillion bill on first reading after three days of debate.

The total represents a 6.7-per-cent increase over the previous fiscal year and is a deficit budget due to state spending outstripping tax revenues. 

Opposition MPs criticised the government for again attaching high priority to arms purchases, just as the junta-led regime did in the wake of the 2014 coup.

With 486 lawmakers present in the lower house on Saturday, the bill was approved with 251 votes. One MP declined to cast a vote either way but was not counted as an abstention. 

All but one of the other MPs abstained. One member of the Future Forward Party voted for the bill.

Many MPs expressed concern that a budgeting delay could have a devastating effect on the economy and create more misery for people already suffering financially. 

The ad-hoc committee will deliberate on the bill for second reading.

Somchai Sawangkarn noted that he and his fellow senators have no authority to cut or increase the spending proposed by the government, but can only vote yes or no. 

If the Senate rejects the bill, it would be sent back to the lower house. If the lower house confirmed its approval, the bill would become law, likely in February. 

Annual budgets usually become legislation in October, but this year’s general election and the tardiness in forming a coalition government resulted in a significant delay.

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