NLA passes 2019 fiscal budget bill
The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) endorsed the 3.3-trillion-baht budget on Thursday that will finance fiscal year 2019 beginning on Oct 1.
After three hours of deliberation, the 2019 budget bill sailed through second and third readings with 206 lawmakers voting to support it, with two abstentions.
The bill was presented to the assembly by the committee scrutinising it led by Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong after the panel had trimmed down several sections.
During the deliberation, the NLA members agreed with the changes made to the budget and no one took the floor to raise any objections about the budget allocations or how and where they would be spent.
The Education Ministry will be allocated the largest slice -- 297.35 billion baht, while the Defence Ministry is set to receive 117.58 billion baht, the Interior Ministry 43.92 billion baht, and the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry 25.47 billion baht.
During the debate, no lawmaker questioned the 40-billion-baht earmarked for the government's Pracharath scheme.
This part of the budget was spared being trimmed by the vetting panel.
Pracharath is the much-touted government initiative calling for people-state partnerships where all sectors of society unite to strengthen the country and boost the economy at a local level.
During the NLA meeting, only a few lawmakers took the floor to debate the bill.
NLA member Kitti Waseenont discussed issues related to the Foreign Ministry's allocation.
Lawmaker Thanee Ornla-ied asked why some allocations for a number of plans had been revised down.
They included Section 37 of the budget bill which concerns funding for plans to integrate efforts to prevent and suppress drug trafficking and rehabilitate drug addicts; Section 39 which involved funds to support a plan to boost revenue from tourism, sports and culture; and Section 44 that dealt with transport and logistics development.
Since the regime took power following the 2014 coup, government budgets have totalled 14 trillion baht, that has included 938 billion baht set aside for the Defence Ministry.