FRIDAY, April 19, 2024
nationthailand

Cabinet gives go-ahead to revised budget framework for years 2025 to 2028

Cabinet gives go-ahead to revised budget framework for years 2025 to 2028

The Cabinet approved the revised budget framework for fiscal years 2025 to 2028, as well as a larger deficit for fiscal 2025 in what is seen as a means to find funds for the controversial digital wallet scheme.

After the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Chalermphol Pensoot, director-general of the Budget Bureau, said the lawmakers had approved the revised budget scope for fiscal years 2025 to 2028 as proposed by the Finance Ministry.

Under the revised scope, the deficit for the planned budget for fiscal 2025, which begins in October this year, will be increased to 865.7 billion baht from 713 billion baht.

Chalermphol said the higher deficit is meant to revive the economy, though he stopped short of saying whether this increased deficit would provide more room for the government to seek loans to finance the digital wallet scheme.

After the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin declined to speak about the source of the 500 billion baht that will be needed to fund the digital wallet scheme, saying he would explain it once and for all after the national digital wallet policy committee meets on April 10.

Earlier, a Government House source said the government had delayed the payment of 10,000 baht to each of the 50 million potentially eligible recipients to the fourth quarter so it could use the budget of two fiscal years – 2024 and 2025 – and seek loans under the normal annual expenditure instead of seeking an off-budget loan.

The government’s earlier plan for an off-budget loan of 500 billion baht had met strong opposition from several government agencies and economists, who said the practice would violate financial discipline and create a heavy public debt burden.

According to Chalermphol, the revised four-year budget framework would only change the projected expenditure and deficit for fiscal 2025, while the projected figures for 2026, 2027 and 2028 would remain unchanged.

The revised framework set the projected spending for fiscal 2025 at 3.75 trillion baht, compared to 3.6 trillion baht in the initial framework and increased the deficit to 865 billion baht from 713 billion baht.

The spending framework for fiscal 2026, 2027, and 2028 came in at 3.743 trillion baht, 3.897 trillion baht, and 4.077 trillion baht, while the deficit for the three fiscal years was set at 703 billion baht, 693 billion baht and 683 billion baht, respectively.

The new framework revised the ratio of public debt to GDP for fiscal years 2025, 2026, 2027 and 2028 to 19.5%, 20.5%, 21.5% and 22.71%, down from 20.04%, 21.11%, 22.25% and 23.40%, respectively.

Chalermphol said the prime minister will soon convene a meeting of the National Economic and Social Development Council, the Finance Ministry, the Budget Bureau and the Bank of Thailand to endorse the budget scope for fiscal 2025, which will be used for drafting that year’s budget bill.

When asked about the source of funds for the digital wallet scheme, Chalermphol said his bureau was still in consultation with a sub-committee in charge of steering the digital wallet policy and a conclusion will be reached before the committee meets on April 10.

Separately, Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat indicated that the higher deficit may be intended to fund the digital wallet scheme.

“Can’t you figure it out?” he asked when reporters on Tuesday queried the expanded deficit in the budget for fiscal 2025.

Also on Tuesday, government spokesman Chai Wacharonke said the government had to revise the budget scopes for the next four fiscal years to revive the sluggish economy.

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