Opposition wants Covid spend probe

Opposition wants Covid spend probe

Nikhom says nation risks bankruptcy

The opposition camp on Thursday submitted a petition to the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) asking it to look into the government's spending to alleviate economic hardship brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and examine its plans to boost the economy.

The move followed the government's decision to issue an executive decree to borrow one trillion baht to combat the Covid-19 outbreak and get the economy back on track.

Led by Thai People Power Party leader Nikhom Boonwiset, the opposition said the state auditor must start its examination of government spending on Covid-19-related relief measures as quickly as possible and disclose the information to the public.

Mr Nikhom cited controversies surrounding the cash handout of 5,000 baht to people affected by Covid-19 as an example after many people complained they had missed out on the cash handouts.

"The borrowing is historic and every Thai has a debt burden. We really want to know if people are getting the assistance they deserve," he said.

Under the plan, 600 billion baht would go to health-related relief and financial aid to those whose jobs and businesses were affected by the outbreak. The rest would fund economic and social rehabilitation through various projects.

Mr Nikhom said the OAG should also look into mass spending under another relief programme; 500 billion baht in soft loans to small and medium-sized enterprises and the setting up of a 400-billion-baht Corporate Bond Stabilisation Fund to enhance liquidity and stabilise the financial market.

"As for SMEs, we need to be sure that all have access to soft loans, not just particular business groups. The corporate bond fund is also our concern as it is likely to help investors rather than the general public who have to shoulder the burden," he said.

Mr Nikhom raised concerns over the enforcement of the state of emergency, saying it might hamper the House of Representatives or the Senate's efforts in scrutinising the government spending to combat Covid-19.

The Thai People Power Party leader also stressed the need for the government to lift the lockdown soon so the economy could get back on track, otherwise the country would risk going bankrupt.

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