[UPDATE] Somkid orders Finance Ministry to prepare backup plan in case of further budget bill delays

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak today instructed the Ministry of Finance (MOF) to prepare a backup plan in case the 2020 fiscal year budget bill is further delayed. 

Speaker of the House of Representatives Chuan Leekpai said earlier that the submission for the bill’s royal endorsement would be put on hold until the Constitutional Court rules on its validity. The move came after 174 MPs requested the court’s ruling on the bill’s validity, following allegations of voting irregularity

Somkid said he had instructed the MOF to come up with a backup plan in case the budget bill does fall through, which could include an emergency decree for a public loan, according to some reports. He also instructed state-owned enterprises to adjust their investment plans.

Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana insisted that the delayed budget would not affect new investments, as he believes the government will be able to come up with suitable measures to address the problem. He also asked the Budget Bureau to consider the types of investment processes that can go ahead while the validity of the budget bill is still in question. 

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha has denied the possibility of an emergency decree, while expressing his concern over government spending on investment since the second fiscal quarter is looming without a budget in hand.

The 2020 budget, worth 3.2 trillion baht (US$105.89 billion), has now been delayed for more than four months. With the Constitutional Court having to rule on its validity before royal endorsement, the bill could be further delayed by at least another one to two months. 

This would leave the government with less than six months to disburse the 2020 fiscal budget, which experts believe is one of the last engines that could help Thailand’s economic recovery this year. 

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