Thai PM lays stress on defence spending hinh anh 1Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha

Bangkok (VNA) – Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has stressed that the Defence Ministry must reserve a budget of 70-80 billion THB (2.3-2.6 billion USD) for buying munitions and vehicles for defensive purposes.

He was speaking before attending the House of Representatives’ budget debate for fiscal year 2020 on October 19.

He said the money is part of the ministry’s allotted budget and has nothing to do with the central expenditure budget.

As the military personnel are patrolling 5,000 kilometres of border both by land and sea, they need modern ships for efficient operations, he said, explaining the ministry’s existing fleet is more than 60 years old, and most of the ships require urgent repair or replacement.

The fiscal 2020 budget passed the first of three readings on October 19 after three days of intense debate. Of the 486 MPs present, 251 voted in favour, 234 abstained, and one did not cast a vote.

The opposition apparently agreed on abstention as the vote was just the first reading approving the bill in principle.

An extraordinary committee, with 15 members from the cabinet, 24 from the opposition and 24 from the coalition, will now be set up to scrutinise the budget details and make changes that all can accept.

The 2020 fiscal year began on Oct. 1 but the second and third readings of the budget bill will not be held until Jan. 8 and 9. The second reading will discuss the bill by section and the third will determine whether the bill will be passed in its entirety.

According to the bill, the central budget stands at 518.8 billion THB, representing 16.2 percent of the total budget, compared to 471.5 billion THB in the previous fiscal year.

The five ministries with the largest allocated budgets are education (368.7 billion THB, down 0.1 percent year-on-year), interior (353 billion THB, up 7.7 percent), finance (249.7 billion THB, up 2.8 percent), defence (233.3 billion THB, up 2.7 percent) and transport (178.8 billion THB, down 0.4 percent)./.