95% spending aim for investment doable: Somkid

95% spending aim for investment doable: Somkid

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak says the investment budget disbursement target for state enterprises of 95% this fiscal year is achievable, even though a mere 41% of the annual investment budget had been doled out by the end of June.

State enterprises are faring slightly better in drawing down investment budget this year than last year, but some of them, including the State Railway of Thailand, Bangkok Mass Transit Authority, Thailand Tobacco Monopoly and Airports of Thailand Plc, are still falling short of their targets, Mr Somkid said after chairing a meeting to accelerate budget spending.

The government has employed public and state enterprise investment as instruments to drive the country's economy over the past few years, helping boost growth to 4.8% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018.

The robust economic growth in the first three months restored the confidence of both local and foreign investors, Mr Somkid said.

After the country's economy in the first quarter expanded at the fastest pace in five years, the Finance Ministry's Fiscal Policy Office (FPO) raised its growth estimate to 4.5% this year from 4.2%, and the Bank of Thailand upgraded its 2018 outlook to 4.4% from 4.1%.

The government has an annual budget expenditure target of 2.9 trillion baht, of which 577 billion is for fiscal 2018 investment.

For the 41 state enterprises, their investment budget had been set at 481 billion baht over the same period.

In 2017, state enterprises doled out 280 billion baht in investment, accounting for 81% of the target.

Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong said state enterprises performed well in terms of budget disbursement, while state agencies were stuck in the slow lane.

The Comptroller-General's Department has requested that state agencies rev up their investment spending, Mr Apisak said.

State agencies meted out a mere 37.1% of the annual investment budget for the eight months through May, well below the full-year target of 87%.

Prapas Kong-Ied, director-general of the State Enterprise Policy Office, said 45 state enterprises drew down 143 billion baht, representing 86% of the disbursement plan, for the October-to-June period and 41% of their annual investment budget of 352 billion.

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