Budget bill investment ‘needs hike’

The Budget Bureau has proposed that the government increase the investment funds to be incorporated into the budget bill for the next fiscal year in order to meet the requirements of the current fiscal discipline law.

Dechapiwat Na Songkhla, the Budget Bureau’s director, said on Tuesday the bureau has suggested that at least 76 billion baht must be added to investment funding to ensure compliance with the fiscal discipline law.

The law stipulates that annual investment funding must account for at least 20% of the government’s expenditure, which stands at 3.1 trillion baht for the next fiscal year.

The total amount of funding is currently earmarked at 624 billion baht, which exceeds the overall expenditure to be contained in the national budget bill due to be deliberated in parliament from May 31-June 2.

But the fiscal discipline law also requires that investment funding must not be below the loan amount set aside for shoring up a budget deficit. For the next fiscal year, this amount is set at 700 billion baht, exceeding the investment funding.

To redress the issue, the bureau has advised the government to get more funds from three sources: the public-private partnership (PPP) investment project, the Thailand Future Fund and the loans disbursed under the law governing public debt management for economic development.

According to the bureau, the additional funds raised through the three channels are estimated to be worth over 76 billion baht which, when combined with the existing investment amount of 624 billion baht, would bring the total to 700 billion baht, which is in line with the legal requirement.

The reason next fiscal year’s investment funding has been kept lower than the deficit shore-up loan is because the government’s revenue for the current year, estimated at 2.6 trillion baht, is expected to fall short of target by 200 billion baht, said the bureau director.

He added the law makes it mandatory to set investment funding higher than the deficit shore-up loan in order to motivate the government to make investments for the sake of national progress.

Also, Kulaya Tantitemit, director-general of the Finance Ministry’s Fiscal Policy Office (FPO), said the design of the budget expenditure bill has been brought up for discussion between the Finance Ministry, the Budget Bureau, the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council and the Bank of Thailand.

The four agencies have agreed it should be formulated as a deficit budget worth 3.1 trillion baht, with the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic crisis factored in.

Meanwhile, Natcha Boonchai-insawat, spokesman of the Move Forward Party, has slammed the government for allegedly allocating a large amount for the defence budget when the money would be better spent fighting the coronavirus outbreak.

Article source: https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/2117855/budget-bill-investment-needs-hike