Navy defends shopping list
The Royal Thai Navy yesterday asked the House committee vetting the spending plan for the 2022 fiscal year for fair treatment after the main opposition Pheu Thai Party sought to further cut budgets for three procurement schemes.
Yuttapong Charasathien, a Pheu Thai MP and member of the House committee vetting the budget bill, had threatened to cut or even scrap funds for an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) project worth 4.1-billion-baht, a submarine communications station valued at 300 million baht and multi-purpose vessels worth 4 billion baht.
Navy spokesman Chettha Jaipiam said the navy took into consideration the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the country and agreed to put on hold a request for 900 million baht to pay the first instalment for two submarines from China, which are worth 22.5 billion baht.
However, he said the other procurement schemes were essential to the navy's job of defending the country's maritime interests in the Gulf of Thailand and in the Andaman Sea covering more than 300,000 sq km.
He said the navy maintains surveillance of these vast areas around the clock and the UAV project can assist with these operations and can help save on expenses.
Mr Yuttapong yesterday questioned the relevance of the navy's UAV scheme which included a 570-million-baht drone purchase, noting the naval operations were largely at sea.
He said he was waiting for details about the army's procurement of helicopters and spare parts for tanks.
"I will object to non-essential weapon procurement schemes especially the submarines. Modern warfare is now largely-based. I insist on proposing further cuts on these programmes," he said.