Friday, October 30, 2020

Thanathorn wants more transparency in annual budget for monarchy

Sep 06. 2020
Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the Progressive Movement
Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the Progressive Movement
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By The Nation

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the Progressive Movement, and adviser to the House committee vetting the annual budget for fiscal year 2021, has demanded more transparency and scrutiny of the budget allocated to support the monarchy institution.

The proposed budget allocation for the highest institution amounts to Bt37.23 billion, up 25 per cent from fiscal year 2020, he said. This includes a direct budget of Bt20.21 billion and indirect budget allocated via other state agencies of Bt16.92 billion.

Thanathorn posted the comments on his Facebook page on Saturday.

The budget allocated to agencies under Palace supervision directly amounts to Bt8.98 billion which is part of the direct planned budget for the monarchy.

The objective of the House committee vetting the annual budget is to ensure efficient and productive use, as much as possible, of resorces given the country has been suffering from a virus-hit economic downturn, he argued.

“We have seen that the budget allocated to support the monarchy was least scrutinised,” he said. He insisted he had good intentions in raising the issue because if this budget was not scrutinised, then people would have more questions about spending and it would have a negative impact on the monarchy's reputation.

Thanathorn said that he wanted to see the Palace agencies follow budget procedures just like other state agencies. They have to send their representatives to defend their spending plan and disclose more information, he said. So far only the officials at the Budget Bureau represent the Palace and present the Palace spending plan. They made a short presentation that the spending plan was Bt8.98 billion, according to Thanathorn.

He pointed out that the budget plan for maintenance and repair of 38 aircraft and helicopters of the Royal Family in fiscal year 2021 amounted to Bt1.97 billion, compared with Bt1.58 billion, Bt1.46 billion and Bt1.29 billion in fiscal 2020, 2019 and 2018 respectively.

This budget under the supervision of the Secretariat of the Prime Minister rose 52 per cent in the past four years, or 13 per cent up on average annually.

If there are no checks and balances on the budget allocated to the monarchy, corrupt officials could take advantage of it, he warned.

The Bt 3.3-trillion budget bill for fiscal year 2021 (October 2020 to September 2021) is pending approval by Parliament. The annual spending plan is up 3.1 per cent from the current fiscal year 2020.

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