Central budget to be used for cost of state quarantine

The cabinet, this week, approved the government’s use of its central budget to pay for the cost of state quarantine.

Deputy Government Spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul said a budget will be set aside to pay for expenses, such as food, transport, accommodation, facilities and the necessary equipment needed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

This is an international standard practice that is being done globally, she added.

All citizens and visitors arriving from abroad will be required to remain in state quarantine for 14 days. The budget will cover all costs.

The mandatory state quarantine measure came into effect on March 1, while the State of Emergency (SOE) was declared on March 26.

The spokesperson did not provide a figure for the budget as the government has yet to calculate the total costs.

Related state agencies, such as the Ministry of Defence (MOD), Ministry of Interior (MOI), Department of Local Administration, Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Transport, will now be able to ask for funds from the central budget to pay for these expenses.  

Some state quarantine expenditures are already covered by state agencies from their yearly budget.

For example, the MOD made an agreement to disburse budget from the Ministry of Finance to partially cover some of the costs. Local administrations are also disbursing budget from the MOI.

However, there are concerns over articles 41 and 42 of the Communicable Diseases Act of 2015 which states that the passenger or the owner or driver of the vehicle used to enter the Kingdom will have to cover all costs. 

This means that state agencies could ask businesses, such as airlines, or even the individuals themselves to pay for the mandated state quarantine.

Such actions would create havoc as an epidemic of this scale in Thailand is largely unprecedented and government agencies have negotiated with neither businesses nor the individuals regarding payment.

According to article 47 of the constitution, however, people are not required to pay for any measure deemed necessary by the government for epidemic prevention.

The central budget is now being supported by emergency loans worth 1.9 trillion baht. The loans have already been approved by the cabinet and royally endorsed since April.

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