Govt whips dismiss call to scrutinise aid spending

Govt whips dismiss call to scrutinise aid spending

Government whips reject the opposition's call for a special House session to debate financial aid for those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Government whips reject the opposition's call for a special House session to debate financial aid for those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Government whips on Monday rejected the opposition's call for a special House session to debate financial aid for those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, saying the government is going ahead with the matter.

Virat Ratanasate, chief whip, said three key coalition partners discussed the opposition's call for an extraordinary meeting and found it to be "non-urgent". He also pointed out that an ordinary House session is scheduled for May 22.

"We don't think it's urgent or warrants their call for a special House session. The government is going ahead full throttle on tackling the outbreak," said Mr Virat, a list-MP for the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP).

Mr Virat said he brought up the issue with Democrat MP for Nakhon Si Thammarat Chinnaworn Boonyakiat and Chada Thaiset, Uthai Thani MP from the Bhumjaithai Party.

Khetrat Laothamatas, spokesman of the Action Coalition for Thailand (ACT) Party, a government coalition partner with five MPs under its wing, said the parliament should not convene at this moment as it could compromise social-distancing measures.

He said a House meeting would draw a large gathering of MPs and their aides, not to mention parliament staff and reporters, which could lead to the spread of the virus.

According to Mr Khetrat, the restrictions imposed under the state of emergency decree contributed to a reduction in transmission, but vigilance remains crucial to avoid a resurgence.

"It's better to wait for the parliament to convene on May 22 and by that time we should see how effective the control measures are. We'll have more time to prepare proper social-distancing measures for the House meeting," he said.

Mr Khetrat said that MPs could still do their jobs by lending support to their communities during the crisis.

Opposition parties called for an extraordinary House session to debate what they call "worrying spending" of aid intended for individuals affected by the government's Covid-19 mitigation policies -- particularly the three executive decrees relating to the financing of Covid-19 relief programmes.

Under Section 123 of the charter, at least one-third of both Houses, or 247 parliamentarians, must support the motion for a debate to be held.

Deputy Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew, who drafted the motion seeking the session, insisted the decrees required the House's approval.

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