Prayut announced that Thailand is ‘financially secure,’ but opposition blame the PM for mishandling national budget

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Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha said in parliament on Tuesday that the country is financially secure despite rising debt. He noted then that the first strategy for the 2023 fiscal budget year is to pursue “national stability.” 

However, opposition leader Chonlanan Srikaew, called him a “narcissist” who failed to recognise his inability to properly manage the country’s economy, fiscal budget, and claims Prayut is using part of the national budget to hold coalition parties ransom.

“The overall financial system is stable, but the business and household sectors are increasingly fragile where some groups are facing problems from rising living and production costs,” Prayut said while reading out his speech to parliamentarians. “Especially groups that are still facing a shortage of income and high debt burdens.”  

The readings of the 2023 budget bill, worth 3.185 trillion baht, started on Tuesday and it is scheduled to end on Thursday.

However the main opposition party, the Pheu Thai Party, said last week that they will vote down the bill. Chonlanan, who is also the leader of Pheu Thai, said on Monday that other opposition parties have agreed that the bill is flawed. If the bill is voted down, the government will be pressured to dissolve parliament.

But Prayut said the budget’s income target is 2.49 trillion baht, along with a loan to compensate its deficit worth 695 billion baht which means that the total expected income is equal to the total budget.

Prayut added that the public debt stood at 9.95 trillion baht, or 60.6 per cent of the GDP, at the end of March, which is lower than the ceiling of 70 per cent. 

The ceiling was increased from 60 to 70 per cent last year after the government took out an emergency decree loan worth one trillion baht to cope with economic impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prayut said inflation should return back to the target range at the beginning of 2023, based on assumptions that global energy prices will not continue to increase next year and the global shortage of raw materials is resolved.

He also said the budget for the 2023 fiscal year is based on six strategies including:

  1. National stability strategy worth 296 billion baht to provide peace within the country, support the democratic system which has the King as the head of state, and resolve the conflict in the south of Thailand.
  2. National competitiveness strategy worth 396 billion baht to provide developments in logistics such as investments in road and rail systems.
  3. Human development strategy worth, 549 billion baht.
  4. Opportunity development and inequality reduction strategy worth 759 billion baht.
  5. Environment friendly development strategy worth 122 billion baht.
  6. Governance development strategy worth 658 billion baht.

The central budget for emergency use was set at 95 billion baht.

But Chonlanan feels that Prayut’s government has been piling up debt over the past eight years with no real economic developments. He believes they should no longer be allowed to handle taxpayers’ money anymore.

“After eight years, the current leader has led the country to its lowest point. The way out is to change the leader,” Chonlanan said.  

“The prime minister cannot be allowed to hold the country at ransom with no way out of this crisis.” 

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