House sets date for loan decree debate

House sets date for loan decree debate

The government and opposition whips agree the scrutiny of three decrees to fund Covid-19 relief schemes and stabilise the economy will take place over five days this month.
The government and opposition whips agree the scrutiny of three decrees to fund Covid-19 relief schemes and stabilise the economy will take place over five days this month.

The government and opposition whips on Friday agreed the scrutiny of three decrees to fund Covid-19 relief schemes and stabilise the economy will take place over five days this month.

Chief government whip Wirach Satanasate said the debate would kick off on May 27 and conclude on May 31 at 3pm followed by a vote.

The government and the opposition would receive 20-24 hours each and time spent by cabinet ministers clarifying the bills would be deducted from the government's quota, he said.

He said the three decrees would be scrutinised altogether, but a vote would be cast on each separately.

One of the loan decrees involves borrowing 1 trillion baht for financial aid, health-related plans and economic and social rehabilitation projects aimed at creating jobs, strengthening communities and building infrastructure.

The other decrees empower the Bank of Thailand to provide soft loans to help small- and medium-sized enterprises and to buy corporate bonds through a Corporate Bond Stabilisation Fund.

The time frame was agreed at the meeting which was attended by House speaker Chuan Leekpai, said Mr Wirach.

The debate was earlier tentatively scheduled for three days from May 27-29 but the opposition insisted the time frame was too short.

Mr Wirach said the House would also deliberate another decree about electronic meetings after the deliberation of the loan decrees. The session would be wrapped up before 8pm on May 31.

He added that a bill on the transfer of unused budgets from various ministries to fight the Covid-19 pandemic would be considered in the first week of June.

Chief opposition whip Sutin Klungsang said while the opposition agreed in principle with the decrees, the debate was necessary with regard to transparency and accountability.

He said the opposition would propose that a report on the spending be submitted to the House on a monthly basis and that an extra-ordinary committee be set up to examine the spending.

Mr Sutin did not rule out seeking a Constitutional Court review of the decrees, but said it would do so only if necessary because the process would delay the relief schemes.

"The promulgation of the decrees might not be in line with the charter because the government has borrowed just small amounts. It means the decrees may not be that urgent and the borrowing of the remaining sum should be scrutinised and authorised by the House as a mid-year budget bill," he said.


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