Wissanu plays down budget delay

Wissanu plays down budget delay

DPM says spending will not be affected

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

The disbursement of the 2021 budget is likely to be delayed by a month but it is unlikely to affect government spending and local elections.

Mr Wissanu said the rest of the 2020 budget could be disbursed pending the passage and enforcement of the Budget Bill for the 2021 fiscal year. The Budget Bureau will determine how much can be drawn from the remainder to cover expenditure, he said.

His remarks followed the Budget Bureau's announcement that the 3.3-trillion-baht budget, which was supposed to be disbursed on Oct 1, would be delayed.

However, Mr Wissanu said the delay should not cause much trouble when compared to last fiscal year, when the passage of the Budget Bill was delayed by six months.

The Budget Bill is scheduled for its second and third readings in the House of Representatives later this week, before it is sent to the Senate for approval on Sept 21.

Asked about local elections which are widely expected to take place later this year, he insisted there should not be any problem as long as local polls do not take place in October.

According to Mr Wissanu, the election budget is divided into two portions: 800 million baht allocated to the Election Commission and billions of baht set aside for local administrative bodies.

"Elections of provincial administrative organisations cost about 2.4 billion baht, an amount they don't have. If the polls are held in November or December, the budget should be ready for disbursement," he said.

Dechapiwat Na Songkhla, director of the Budget Bureau, said the office would today propose to the cabinet a set of criteria for the use of the remainder of last year's budget.

He said the amount would be estimated at about 25% of the total budget to cover expenses in the first quarter to prevent disruption.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha dismissed a suggestion that the government was broke when reporters asked about the delay but said he had asked Deputy Finance Minister Santi Promphat, chairman of the House committee on scrutiny of the Budget Bill, to speed up the deliberation process.

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