The Speaker of the House of Representatives sent the legal issue arising out of MPs facilitating each other on votes by using colleague’s voting cards to cast ballots to the Constitutional Court last week. This weekend, more cases were revealed involving Palang Pracharat Party MPs while last week attention focused on two Bhumjaithai MPs.
The Thai Prime Minister has warned that ‘everyone is in trouble’ if the legal challenge to the 2020 budget which has been sent to the Constitutional Court by the speaker of the lower house of parliament is not resolved quickly.
It comes at the ministry’s budget director warns that government coffers could be empty by March after spending ฿1 trillion in the October to January period.
The Director of the Budget Bureau in Thailand has warned that the government’s coffers could run to empty between now and March after the legal obstacle arose over the 2020 budget in relation to the validity of votes cast by members not present in the chamber.
Dechapiwat Na Songkhla pointed out that the government had spent a whopping ฿1 trillion from October to January as part of the ฿3.2 billion budget and that it may only have ฿500 billion to carry it towards March as it was allowed to spend half the bill’s provision while it was progressing through parliament.
Budget was approved by parliament last week and ready to be sent off for royal endorsement
The budget bill was approved by parliament last week and should have been on its way for royal endorsement over the coming days.
However, on Thursday, the House Speaker Chuan Leekpai confirmed that a legal submission had been sent to the Constitutional Court querying the validity of the bill after a former Democrat Party MP identified two MPs from the Bhumjaithai Party who had not been physically present when their votes were cast in parliament.
Last week, 90 coalition party MPs and 84 opposition members asked the speaker to clarify the legal status of the bill after doubts emerged which challenged the legality of the 2020 budget bill’s passage.
Palang Pracharat MPs admit co-operating on votes
This weekend, similar revelations have been made in respect of several Palang Pracharat MPs who have claimed that it has become normal for house MPs to co-operate with each other by using electronic voting cards of fellow MPs with their consent, to cast ballots.
The MPs have also explained that the parliamentary facilities leave them with not enough voting machines.
This is in spite of a warning from Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam that such acts constitute serious offences and damage the reputation of the parliament.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu expressed confidence that a solution can be found to resolve the problem
The Deputy Prime Minister and legal expert has insisted, since the issue arose last week, that some solution can be found.
The Budget Director Mr Dechapiwat has suggested increasing the 50% provision to 75% allowing the government adequate funding until May this year.
It is being accepted, however, that the Constitutional Court may take some time to investigate the matter put before it and give a definitive ruling.
Prime Minister views the matter very seriously
Last week, Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha indicated that the matter was serious. ‘Without the money, everyone will be trouble,’ he said as he suggested that he was looking at ways to address the problem.
He warned that without government investment and capital expenditure there is no hope for an improvement in an already depressed economy which government economic planners were hoping to prime and boost this year in the hope that the external economic situation will improve including a weakening of the Thai baht.
Somkid expressed fears that the budget for capital projects may not be freed up until the end of May
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak appeared to indicate that if some solution is not found, that the matter may not be resolved until the end of May with dire consequences.
The Thai annual budget runs from the 1st October to September 30th. Warning of the consequences as a result of the matter, he said: ‘The government may have just four months left for public investments, it could derail much of the planned projects. Such a problem should not have occurred.’