House approves B500bn Covid-loan decree

House approves B500bn Covid-loan decree

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha defends the 500-billion-baht executive decree in Parliament on Wednesday. The decree was approved by House of Representatives on Thursday. (Photo: Parliament)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha defends the 500-billion-baht executive decree in Parliament on Wednesday. The decree was approved by House of Representatives on Thursday. (Photo: Parliament)

An executive decree allowing the government to borrow 500 billion baht for Covid-19 assistance, treatments and research was approved by the House of Representatives on Thursday.

MPs voted 270-196 to pass the decree, with two abstentions and one member deciding not to vote.

It allows the Finance Ministry to raise 500 billion baht, but loan contracts must be signed by Sept 30 next year, according to Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith.

About 30 billion baht is earmarked to buy medical supplies, drugs and vaccines, and for research and the development of vaccines.

About 300 billion baht is allocated for funding relief schemes for people across various sectors, and the rest for social and economic rehabilitation projects.

The finance minister said before the vote that the cash injection would hit the target and the goverment would keep pubic debt at less than 60% of gross domestic product.

Cholnan Srikaew, a Pheu Thai MP for Nan, said in the closing session the opposition was not convinced that the borrowing would enable the goverment contain the pandemic, and  cast doubt on the transparent spending of the money.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Wednesday, when the debate began, that the country was in critical need of the loan because nobody knew when the Covid-19 crisis would bottom out.

The loan decree was published in the Royal Gazette on May 25. It followed last year’s 1-trillion-baht emergency loan decree.


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