Senate nod for B1.9tn Covid splurge

Senate nod for B1.9tn Covid splurge

Fears raised decrees will trigger graft

The three executive decrees designed to alleviate the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on Tuesday sailed through the Senate's deliberation albeit with concerns raised over possible corruption in the planned spending of the more than 1.9 trillion baht.

On the second day of the Senate's deliberation of the three decrees, senators voted unanimously to pass the executive decree authorising the Finance Ministry to borrow about 1 trillion baht to ease the impact of the outbreak on the people and the economy.

The voting was 241 in favour, none against and four abstentions.

The decree allowing the government to offer financial assistance totalling about 500 billion baht to business operators affected by the outbreak was passed also with 243 votes in favour, none against and three abstentions.

Voting on the other decree involving about 400 billion baht aimed at stabilising the country's financial system and ensuring economic security was 242 in favour, none against, and four abstentions.

The decrees sailed through the House of Representatives on Sunday before they were forwarded to Senate.

Before yesterday's vote, several senators had expressed concern over possible corruption in the planned massive spending during a debate on the decrees.

Senator Somchai Sawaengkarn, for instance, pointed out that efficiency and transparency in spending under this major scheme will determine whether the kingdom's corruption perception index (CPI) will rise or fall.

Signs of rampant corruption have already been detected by the Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission in several procurement projects carried out previously as part of the government's bid to mitigate the impact of the outbreak, he said.

Suspected inflated prices in the procurement of Covid-19 relief bags, thermometers and sanitising alcohol were found by the commission to be a common form of suspected graft, he said.

Deputy government spokesperson Tipanan Sirichana yesterday said Phicharn Chaowapatanawong, a deputy Move Forward Party leader, violated parliament's code of conduct in accusing MPs in the coalition of being promised 80 million baht in the aftermath of Covid-19.

Mr Tipanan said Mr Phicharn has not backed the claim, noting he had heard about the allegation from a third party.

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