Little wiggle room likely in budget

Little wiggle room likely in budget

Election promises may be left behind

The long-awaited 2020 budget bill is an urgent agenda for the next cabinet meeting on Aug 6. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)
The long-awaited 2020 budget bill is an urgent agenda for the next cabinet meeting on Aug 6. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)

If the long-awaited 2020 budget expenditure framework of 3.2 trillion baht, scheduled to seek the cabinet's nod on Aug 6, is not changed, a mere 70-80 billion baht will be left over for the government to make good on election promises.

The first reading of the draft bill on the 2020 budget is expected on Oct 17.

The 3.2-trillion-baht budget framework, earlier approved by the previous administration, is expected to be endorsed by the cabinet, said Dechapiwat Na Songkhla, director of the Budget Bureau.

The 2020 budget is expected to take effect in January if the process continues as scheduled, he said.

Given the prolonged government formation, the 2020 budget is three months behind schedule, as the fiscal year begins on Oct 1.

The 3.2 trillion baht is an increase of 200 billion from fiscal 2019, which ends Sept 30. The projected budget deficit is 450 billion baht.

After the cabinet reaffirms next fiscal year's budget framework, the Budget Bureau will inform each ministry of the available budget, said Mr Dechapiwat.

He said 200-300 billion baht is needed to fulfil all of the government's election promises.

The government must either scale back election promises or prioritise some over others, said Mr Dechapiwat.

Each ministry can redirect their budget towards financing election pledges, he said, adding spending to carry out the promises in subsequent fiscal years.

Mr Dechapiwat said if the cabinet wants to alter the 2020 fiscal budget framework, budget disbursement will be delayed as it must return the budget process to the four policymakers to consider a new framework.

The four policymakers are the Bank of Thailand, the Finance Ministry, the National Economic and Social Development Council and the Budget Bureau.

A slew of welfare policies were touted in the run-up to the general election, including a 3,000 baht monthly allowance for nine months for pregnant women, plus a 10,000 baht allowance for births, a child allowance of 2,000 baht a month for newborn children until six years of age, and an old-age living allowance of 1,000 baht a month.

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