Following a five-day debate, MPs in Thailand voted on the implementation of three executive decrees that would allow the government to borrow a total of 1.9 trillion baht to fight the impact of coronavirus on various sectors of the economy.
Despite the opposition expressing concern over the lack of transparency regarding exactly how the money would be spent, all three decrees were voted in by the MPs, but not without controversy as there were many abstained votes.
The first executive decree related to the authorization for the Finance Ministry to borrow one trillion baht. The funds will assist with social and economic rehabilitation following the coronavirus pandemic.
The decree passed with 274 MPs voting in favor, zero voting against, and 207 abstaining from voting.
The second executive decree related to financial support for SMEs that are affected by the covid-19 situation to the tune of 500 billion baht. Out of 481 MPs, 275 voted in favor, one voted against, and 205 abstained from voting.
The third executive decree related to maintaining financial stability with the borrowing of 400 billion baht. 274 MPs voted in favor, 274 MPs voted against, one failed to cast a vote, and 12 abstained from voting.
There was an additional decree on the agenda relating to electronic meetings which also passed. 270 MPs voted in favor while 11 voted against, and 176 abstained from voting.
After the successful voting, Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, spoke about the concerns expressed by the opposition over transparency and how the money will be spent. He said:
“This one-trillion-baht portion requires the same procedure as general disbursement. Independent constitutional organizations can also launch probes. The Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council will create a website for the public to follow up on projects.”
He went on to insist that he does not oppose a special House committee to monitor government spending.
However, the former Deputy Prime Minister, Chaturon Chaisang, says that Gen Prayut did not show how the huge spending will be scrutinized and that he did not seem keen to set up a House committee for monitoring the spending.
He also pointed out that the Prime Minister had not fully explained how the government will balance maintaining public health and safety while loosening the lockdown restrictions to revive the economy.
Source: Bangkok Post