77 opposition MPs to take part in 2014 budget debate

Seventy-seven opposition MPs will take part in the 2014 budget bill debate.

It will centre around the government's alleged failures, corruption and budget misspending to achieve political ends, Democrat list-MP and chief opposition whip Jurin Laksanavisit said.

The Democrat MPs will be given 12 hours to debate the bill, with Bhumjaithai MPs to be given two and a half hours to debate, he said.

The extraordinary House session for the budget bill debate will start tomorrow and end on Friday.

The government plans to spend 2.5 trillion baht in the 2014 fiscal year while its revenue is estimated at 2.275 trillion baht, Mr Jurin said.

This means the government will need to borrow to cover the 250-billion-baht deficit.

However, Mr Jurin said the amount of debt shown in the budget bill is just the beginning. The opposition did not believe the government has revealed the actual amount of debt, he said.

Mr Jurin raised concerns about massive debts of 6 trillion baht caused by the rice mortgage scheme, the 350-billion-baht water management scheme and the 2-trillion-baht infrastructure loan.

He said the opposition had received information about an allocation of 1.2 billion baht to buy 1,000 vans for student transport. He said the procurement is suspicious as it is linked to the Education Ministry's policy to close small schools.

The budget for the 2014 fiscal year has increased by 5.2% or about 19.1% of GDP.

The top four ministries which stand to get the most funding are the Education Ministry (481.3 billion baht, or 19.1% of the budget), followed by the Interior Ministry (328.7 billion baht, or 13%), the Finance Ministry (229.3 billion baht, or 9.1%), and the Defence Ministry (184 billion baht, or 7.3%).

About 345 billion baht (13.7% of the total budget) has been earmarked for the central budget for the next fiscal year, an increase of 25.5 billion baht from the previous year.

Chief government whip Amnuay Klangpha said he expected the budget debate to go smoothly in the first reading.

He confirmed the extraordinary House session for the budget debate will not discuss the amnesty bill or the reconciliation bill.

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Writer: Mongkol Bangprapa & Manop Thip-Osod