NLA spares Pracharat scheme from budget trim

NLA spares Pracharat scheme from budget trim

A proposed 40-billion-baht budget for the Pracharat scheme has been spared from being trimmed by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) panel vetting the 2019 fiscal budget bill.

Pracharat is the much-touted government initiative calling for public-private partnerships where all sectors of society join hands to strengthen the country and boost the economy at a local level.

The three-trillion-baht bill will be deliberated in the second and third readings by lawmakers on Thursday and Friday.

The biggest beneficiary of the bill is the Education Ministry, which is set to receive 174.9 billion baht, although that figure was cut by 1.3 billion baht by the panel.

The Defence Ministry, which was earmarked for 117.5 billion baht, has seen that figure reduced by 534 million baht.

The panel has also knocked 253 million baht off the Transport Ministry's 55-billion-baht tally, and 453 million baht off the Interior Ministry's 36.5-billion-baht allotment.

Meanwhile, the 40-billion-baht Pracharat budget was left untouched by the committee.

The vetting panel, chaired by Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong, is said to have redistributed its 24.2 billion baht of cuts to other agencies instead.

Emergency operations under the central fund are reported to be receiving an extra nine billion baht, the biggest gain following the vetting.

This was followed by the 7.2 billion baht added to the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives and state enterprise farmer organisations, and 2.5 billion baht which the panel added to the Equitable Education Fund.

The Defence Ministry will receive another 307 million baht, of which 167 million baht is to be used to reinforce the armed forces.

The vetting panel's members expressed concerns about the expenses allotted to consultancy entities for government projects, noting that consultants must be hired based on necessity and expertise only.

They also touched on the expenses for overseas work inspections, saying the trips must serve a clear purpose based on cabinet resolutions.

Over the past five years of the current government, the allotted budgets total 14 trillion baht, including 938 billion baht set aside for the Defence Ministry.

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