PM slammed over clean air bill decision
The main opposition Pheu Thai Party has accused Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha of preventing MPs discussing a clean air bill in parliament by having it declared finance-related legislation.
Wattanarak Amnansoradet, chairman of Pheu Thai's environment and natural resources committee, said it was a pity that Gen Prayut decided to drop the bill after it was classified as a financial piece of legislation.
The bill, sponsored by the coalition Bhumjaithai Party, was due to be deliberated in parliament.
However, the House of Representatives secretariat office said parliament president Chuan Leekpai determined it came under financial legislation.
Such a classification requires the prime minister to decide whether to push such a bill through to parliament.
As head of the executive branch, the prime minister takes full responsibility for managing the national budget and finances.
He is therefore authorised to either endorse or drop any financial bills before they reach parliament.
The clean air bill was drafted last July by the Bhumjaithai Party along with two other bills of a similar nature.
These two bills are a clean air management bill initiated by 12,000 people in a signature campaign and proposed to parliament on July 13 last year; and a bill on transporting and discharging toxic substances into the environment proposed by the Move Forward Party.
Like the Bhumjaithai-sponsored bill, these two bills were also designated "financial" and subsequently failed to make it to parliament.
A fourth piece of legislation, pertaining to comprehensive clean air management, is in the making. At least 10,000 signatures are being gathered in support of such legislation.
Pol Capt Wattanarak said yesterday the clean air bill would easily have won approval from lawmakers if only it had been admitted for debate and scrutiny in parliament.
The bill, if passed, would have made air purifiers and certain types of face masks more affordable to people, particularly those suffering from chronic respiratory ailments.
"Most of them are left to fend for themselves and this is a form of social inequality.
"I can't help but wonder why the government is in no hurry to solve the air quality problem when everyone is entitled to breathe clean air," the Pheu Thai politician said, adding several civic groups and universities had rallied behind the bill only to see it quashed.
Meanwhile, Supachai Jaisamut, a Bhumjaithai list MP, said that the party will continue to push for a bill to alleviate air pollution.