Transfer bill before House
The final deliberation on a bill to reallocate 88 billion baht to a central fund to fight Covid-19 and rehabilitate the economy started yesterday.
The budget transfer bill passed its first reading in the House earlier this month with 264 votes in its favour.
Yesterday was the first day of the final debate. House Speaker Chuan Leekpai yesterday said MPs are likely to hold the second and third readings within two days.
Chief opposition whip Sutin Klungsang had agreed during talks with the coalition government to get the debates done yesterday to allow for a House vote today.
The opposition was given 10 hours to debate the bill with the possibility of an extension, though that was now unlikely, he said. The opposition would argue some ministries should not be defunded, such as the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Education.
Mr Sutin yesterday said more of the Defence Ministry's budget should be transferred to the central fund to fight Covid-19 instead.
In addition, yesterday's debate also covered the reallocation of funds set aside for local elections, which the opposition saw as politically motivated. Mr Sutin accused the government of attempting to postpone local elections.
As for the final vote on the budget transfer bill, Mr Sutin said if all MPs in the government coalition were allowed to vote freely, some would veto the bill out of frustration over unfair budget cuts.
Mr Chuan said the cabinet on Monday approved 3.3 trillion baht for the national budget next year.
The bill will be tabled before parliament and have its first reading on June 30.