Minnows deny plot to kill budget bill
Dissolution of House likely if govt defeated
In the event the 2023 budget bill is voted down in the coming three-day House debate, the government will likely dissolve the House, which will inevitably result in the deliberation of the two draft laws required for a new general election being suspended, said Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.
He was responding to attempts by the opposition and certain political cliques to derail the budget bill, set to be tabled in the House of Representatives from Tuesday until Thursday.
It's a tradition for the government to either resign or dissolve the House in that case, he said.
However, the most likely option will be dissolving the House because even if a new budget bill is later submitted by a new government in the event the present government resigns, the bill could be rejected again if the House's composition remains the same, he said.
Katathep Techadejruangkul, party-list MP and leader of Pheu Chart Thai Party, a member of the so-called Group of 16 which comprises mainly MPs from small parties, however, said the group had never reached any agreement to vote against the 2023 budget bill.
He was speaking in his capacity as secretary of the group.
More importantly, as leader of the Pheu Chart Thai Party he intended to support the bill and expects it to be passed so a bigger budget can be allocated to fund the government's administration of the country.
His final decision whether he will vote for the bill or not will largely depend on how Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his cabinet respond to questions raised over the bill during this week's debate.
He was responding to rumours the small parties were colluding with former Setthakij Thai secretary-general, Captain Thamanat Prompow, to oust Gen Prayut in the budget bill debate and a new no-confidence debate, expected later next month.
The 3.18-trillion-baht budget bill for the 2023 fiscal year, starting Oct 1 this year, is 85 billion baht higher than the 2022 fiscal budget, a 2.74% rise, said a source, adding it also amounts to 17.79% of forecast gross domestic product (GDP).
The Budget Bureau has projected that the economy will grow between 3.5% and 4.5% this year, following signs of recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic particularly in the tourism and export sectors.
As for next year, the bureau has said it expects a growth of between 3.2% and 4.2%.
Public debt recorded as of Jan 31 was 9.73 trillion baht, accounting for 56.9% of GDP, said the bureau.
Prasert Chanthararuangthong, secretary-general of the opposition Pheu Thai Party, said the party will target the proposed defence budget which still includes a controversial plan to procure more weapons, and disparities in the government's allocation of state budget to finance its handling of the economic impact of Covid-19.
About 10 key speakers have been assigned to debate each of these points while 40 others will support these key speakers in the coming debate, he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, meanwhile, said he believes the budget bill will sail through.
Chanin Rungthanakiat, deputy spokesman for Pheu Thai, accused the Prayut administration of failing miserably in managing and building the country's economy, saying Thailand was in a frozen state.
He was referring to it being a stagnant economy.
Of the proposed budget of 3.18 trillion baht, up to 695 billion baht, about 22%, represents deficits that will require loans to fund, he said.
This will mean that if the government fails to seek more loans to finance the proposed investment budget, he said, it won't be able to proceed with its investment plans at all, which reflects the government's inability to develop the economy and find revenue.