Democrats ready MPs to grill government on borrowing
The Democrat Party has prepared 40 MPs to grill the government over its 2-trillion-baht borrowing bill which will be debated by the House on Thursday and Friday.
- Published: 26/03/2013 at 12:11 AM
- Newspaper section: topstories
In the eyes of the editorial cartoonist, it's a 2-trillion-baht cake, cooked up by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (nickname Poo, or "Crab") and the hungry cabinet. (Post Today)
Opposition and Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva Monday said the 40 MPs will not only grill the government about the bill, but also prepare to defend the Democrats' Thai Khem Kaeng economic stimulus scheme which the government is expected to use to strike back at the Democrats during the debate.
Mr Abhisit said the documents attached to the massive spending bill and sent to MPs only showed rough details of projects to be funded by the loans under the bill.
"As the documents do not have legally binding status, the projects mentioned can be changed by the government and this will be part of the opposition's criticism," he said.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra insisted Monday the planned 2-trillion-baht investment to develop national infrastructure is crucial to the country's competitiveness.
Thailand must implement the infrastructure overhaul or risk falling behind other countries in the region, Ms Yingluck said during her visit to Papua New Guinea.
Once the rail and road schemes are completed, Thailand will be linked with its neighbours in Asean, she said. A more connected Asean will draw more foreign investment, she added. (Story continues after the photos)
While Mr Abhisit (left) was briefing the press on Democrat Party plans, Ms Yingluck was in Papua New Guinea, defending her plan as a big step forward for the region. (Bangkok Post photos)
The new transport networks will also make shipping raw materials from manufacturers to overseas markets more efficient, Ms Yingluck said.
With key tourist destinations better connected, more tourists will visit and will stay longer, she said.
The transport overhaul will also encourage people to relocate from city centres to the suburbs where it is less crowded and the quality of life is better, she said.
The infrastructure developments would cut national transport costs by 2 per cent and boost gross domestic product by an average of 1 per cent each year, Ms Yingluck said.
The scheme would generate about 500,000 new jobs which should dramatically strengthen the economy, she said.
Transport Minister Chadchat Sittipunt Monday downplayed concern that the bill would saddle the country with an irreversible development plan. He said the next government may cancel some of the projects if it disagrees with them.
The minister said he planned to publish a 300-page report about the scheme so all sides could be well-informed.
All projects under the infrastructure bill must be approved by the National Economic and Social Development Board and carry approved environmental and health impact assessment studies, he said.
Mr Chadchat said it is possible some of the projects may not pass these requirements and would not qualify for funding. He said the 2-trillion-baht price tag would fall in the event that certain projects are rejected.
He acknowledged the public is concerned about the transparency of the project and the debt load.
A recent government survey about the scheme showed that while roughly 90 per cent of respondents supported the scheme, many were concerned about its transparency.
About the author
- Writer: Wassana Nanuam, Pradit Ruangdit & Chatrudee Thaparat