Chuan lays down budget law
Unspent committee funds 'are state cash'
Parliament President Chuan Leekpai is to meet all members of House standing committees to remind them about spending rules after they denied dividing up unspent budget allocations among themselves.
Mr Chuan said on Monday he was shocked to hear rumours that members of all 35 House committees allocated themselves 100,000 baht each from money left unspent from a 90-million-baht budget.
Anything left unspent is supposed to be returned to state coffers before the end of the fiscal year on Sept 30. However, according to the rumours, the unspent budget ended up in the pockets of standing committee members.
Mr Chuan flatly denied the rumours, and said that all funding, whether spent or unspent must be accounted for.
"Any leftover money has to and will be put back into the central budget because it belongs to the taxpayer. It its not for sharing out among the committees," the parliament president said.
"I'm also asking parliamentary officials to keep tabs on budget spending," he added.
Sukij Atthopakorn, adviser to the parliament president, said Mr Chuan is scheduled to chair a meeting of House standing committees to outline spending rules today.
A clear set of criteria will be laid down governing the disbursement of funds by committees, including meeting allowance, accommodation stipends, money for hosting conferences and travel expenses for committee members. Dr Sukij said there is no longer a budget for overseas study tours for House members following many complaints about MPs using government money to go on pleasure trips.
He said the rumours about the committee were "intended to trample on parliament's reputation".
Chavalit Wichayasut, a Pheu Thai Party MP for Nakhon Phanom and deputy chairman of the House law, justice and human rights committee, dismissed the rumours.
No one would risk prosecution by pocketing unspent money, he said.