Dems join calls for loan scrutiny body

Dems join calls for loan scrutiny body

Lack of MP oversight too risky, they say

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is leaving the parliament in Bangkok after a debate on the government's financial plan to handle Covid-19 impacts on Thursday. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is leaving the parliament in Bangkok after a debate on the government's financial plan to handle Covid-19 impacts on Thursday. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

The Democrat Party, a key member of the coalition government, on Thursday joined calls from the opposition for an independent body to scrutinise how the 1.9-trillion-baht Covid-19 rehabilitation scheme is spent.

Rangsima Rodrassami, a Democrat MP for Samut Songkhram, on Thursday pointed to the need to set up a committee to closely monitor expenditure, to ensure maximum benefits for the country.

She was speaking on the second day of the House debate on the three decrees the government needs to implement the scheme.

One authorises the Finance Ministry to borrow about 1 trillion baht to fund economic and social rehabilitation in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic; another will allow the government to provide financial assistance to business operators affected by the outbreak, and the final decree aims to stabilise the country's financial system and restore economic security.

Current Covid-19 financial assistance programmes have seen many people unable to get help, such as those who have no access to the internet, she said.

"The government should do something to ensure equal access to assistance," she said.

The loan amount the government is seeking is substantial while details about the borrowing are rather scarce, especially where the 1 trillion baht it supposed to come from, Democrat list-MP Kiat Sittheeamorn said.

"Saying transparency in spending this money is guaranteed is never enough. A good management system that allows real-time disclosure of spending details is needed," he said.

Khrumanit Sangphum, a Pheu Thai MP for Surin, said he was willing to only back the 1-trillion-baht loan decree because he feels sorry for the many people suffering from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

He said he suspects the other two decrees would largely benefit well-off people and not low-income earners who have lost their jobs and are losing their cars and houses.

Rewat Wisarutwet, deputy Seri Ruam Thai Party leader, called for the debate to be suspended until Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha can present the House with documents giving more details about the decree.

Debt repayment details are needed, he said, adding that without having such details, approving the loan decree would be tantamount to issuing a blank cheque to the government.


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