Move Forward MP queries Thai Army’s push for huge ‘secret’ budget

WEDNESDAY, JULY 10, 2024

Questions why military confidential budget has risen several fold in just one year

A Move Forward Party MP questioned why the military needs a secret budget of up to 4.89 billion baht at a meeting of the House panel vetting the budget bill on Wednesday.

MP Surachate Praweenwongwut asked the panel why the military was allowed 4.89 billion baht as confidential, off-budget funding for fiscal 2025, compared to 660 million baht in fiscal 2024.

He said he had no prejudice against planned military spending, but just wanted the armed forces to clarify what the money would be spent on instead of just saying it is for confidential operations.

Surachate is a minority member of the panel, so his concerns are unlikely to lead to any changes to the military’s projected spending.

The ad hoc panel on Wednesday vetted the proposed spending of the Defence Ministry and invited several top brass to defend their funding requests.

Among the top brass present were General Samitchanok Sangkhachan, Defence Ministry’s permanent secretary; General Songwit Noonpakdee, chief of the Royal Thai Armed Forces; Army chief General Charoenchai Hinthao; Navy chief Admiral Padung Phan-iam; Air Force chief ACM Phanphakdee Pattanakul.

The panel deliberated on the budgets of the Defence Permanent Secretariat, the Royal Thai Armed Forces, and the Defence Technology Institute in the morning and that of the Army, Navy and Air Force in the afternoon.