State agencies fall short on spending

State agencies fall short on spending

State agencies doled out a mere 37.1% of the annual investment budget for the eight months through May, well below the full-year target of 87%, says a source at the Finance Ministry.

The disbursed investment budget from October to May was still below half of this fiscal year's target, with only four months left.

The government has an annual budget expenditure target of 2.9 trillion baht, of which 577 billion is for investment, for fiscal 2018. At the end of May, 64.4% of the 2.9-trillion-baht budget was taken out during the first eight months, 71.8% of which was regular budget.

The government aims for 96% of the annual budget and 87% of the investment budget to be drawn down this fiscal year, the source said.

Even though the investment budget disbursement rate is considered low, procurement contracts for 62.9% of the budget were signed, indicating a commitment that the funds will be taken out, the source said, adding that the disbursement rate is expected to accelerate later.

Public investment has been a mainstay for economic growth in recent years amid still-tepid domestic consumption and private investment. The private sector recently raised concerns that the stricter Government Procurement and Supplies Management Act, effective from last August, would delay public investment, as many provincial governors could baulk at signing contracts.

But the Finance Ministry said the act would not be a stumbling block for budget disbursement, as seen by the larger value of signed procurement contracts with the private sector.

For state enterprises, the five with the lowest budget disbursement for this fiscal year during the October-to-May period were the Expressway Authority of Thailand, which disbursed no funds; the Fish Marketing Organization, which disbursed 4.63%; the Provincial Waterworks Authority (9.98%); the Sports Authority of Thailand (10.3%); and the Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (15.2%).

The top five state enterprises in terms of budget disbursement were the National Housing Authority (73.9%); the Tourism Authority of Thailand (67.7%); the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (59.9%); the National Science Museum (41.5%); and the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (39.6%).

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitsak earlier urged state agencies and enterprises to rev up budget disbursement rather than waiting until the final quarter of the fiscal year.

For October to March, 1.47 trillion baht of the 2.9-trillion-baht budget expenditure for the fiscal year was withdrawn. Of that, 1.29 trillion baht was from the regular budget and the rest was from the investment budget.

The fiscal 2018 revenue collection target is 2.45 trillion baht, while the annual budget is 2.9 trillion, yielding a deficit of 450 billion.

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