Wissanu downplays budget bill concerns

Wissanu downplays budget bill concerns

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam has allayed concerns about the controversy surrounding 2020 budget bill, saying this problem can be dealt in a number of ways if the bill is ruled invalid by the Constitutional Court.

Mr Wissanu cited the constitution's Section 143 as one of the solutions.

House Speaker Chuan Leekpai on Friday submitted the case to the Constitutional Court after 90 coalition MPs asked the court on Wednesday for a ruling on the bill's validity.

They also wanted the court to decide if Section 143 can be applied in this case.

Section 143 stipulates that if the House of Representatives cannot complete the deliberation of a bill within 105 days of it reaching the House, the bill shall be deemed as approved.

Mr Wissanu said if the court rules that this section can be applied, the original version of the budget bill that was tabled in its first reading will be revived and used, instead of the current version scrutinised by the vetting committee, which proposed several cuts.

Should the court find the entire bill invalid, there will still be some solutions to ensure the budgets are eventually disbursed, Mr Wissanu said, adding that issuing an executive decree to seek loans as a contingency measure will be used as a last resort.

The request for a court ruling stems from former Democrat Party MP Nipit Intarasombat's allegation that two Bhumjaithai MPs voted in favour of the bill without being present in the House earlier this month.

Both the Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties are members of the coalition government.

Chalong Therdwiraong, Bhumjaithai MP for Phatthalung, admitted he was at a funeral in Phatthalung on Jan 10 when his vote was cast.

He said he had left his electronic voting card behind in a House voting machine.

Mr Nipit also claimed that Natee Ratchakitprakarn, another Bhumjaithai MP, also voted for the bill without being present in the House.

He showed an air ticket and a picture of Ms Natee passing through an immigration checkpoint at Suvarnabhumi airport to board a plane heading to China, at the time her vote for the budget bill was logged.

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