Government survives key test with B3.3tn budget vote

Government survives key test with B3.3tn budget vote

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha attends the draft budget bill debate in Parliament on Thursday. His government wins the first reading on Friday night. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha attends the draft budget bill debate in Parliament on Thursday. His government wins the first reading on Friday night. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

The coalition government survived a key challenge on Friday when Parliament passed the first reading of a 3.3 trillion baht budget bill for the 2021 fiscal year, aimed at reviving an economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

A defeat would have forced Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's 20-party government to either resign or dissolve Parliament.

After a three-day debate, the bill's passed with 273 votes in favour, 200 against and three abstentions.

The bill still has to pass second and third readings in early September. It will also need senate and royal approval.

The proposed budget projects a 3.1% rise in spending to 3.3 trillion baht for the fiscal year starting on Oct 1. It projects a deficit of 623 billion baht, up 32.8% from the 2020 fiscal year.

The budget planners have assumed Southeast Asia's second-largest economy will shrink 5%-6% this year before growing 4-5% in 2021. The Bank of Thailand has forecast a record economic contraction of 8.1% this year.


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