Govt 'has contingency plan' for Budget Bill ruling

Govt 'has contingency plan' for Budget Bill ruling

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam

The government has a contingency plan worked out to mitigate any legal or technical impacts from the Constitutional Court's ruling on Friday on the validity of the Budget Bill, says Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.

Mr Wissanu admitted he has been kept in suspense waiting for the judgement, but said it was being handed down sooner than he had anticipated. 

However, the government has looked into the scenarios and explored all the possible rulings. It has the ground covered, the deputy premier said. 

He added the government will do everything in its power to ensure there is no delay in implementing the bill, which was passed by both Houses. However, it has been halted since the validity issue was referred to the Constitutional Court for a decision.

The court accepted a request filed by House Speaker Chuan Leekpai asking for a ruling after it was revealed some coalition lawmakers voted for it without being present in the chamber.

The court took up the issue after 109 coalition MPs and 84 opposition lawmakers asked it to clear up all doubts surrounding the bill’s legality.

Questions were raised after Nipit Intarasombat, a former Democrat MP, alleged on Jan 20 that two Bhumjaithai MPs — Chalong Therdwirapong and Natee Ratchakitprakarn — voted to pass the bill without being present in the House on Jan 10-11. Mr Chalong later admitted he was at a funeral in Phatthalung when his vote was cast, saying he had accidentally left his electronic voting card behind.

Mr Nipit also said Ms Natee’s vote for the bill was cast when she was already on her way to China. A video clip aired on Channel 7 showed Prim Pooncharoen, of the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), and Somboon Zarum of Bhumjaithai inserting more than one card in the voting machines.

on Thursday, Mr Wissanu said the court's ruling today will spell out what actions to take with regards to the bill. 

The court's possible decisions include finding the entire bill either invalid or invalid and advising what must be done specifically to rectify it, according to the deputy prime minister. 

If the ruling requires a response from the government, the issue could be brought up for discussion at the cabinet meeting next Tuesday, Mr Wissanu said.

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