Special Report: Government and private sector disappointed over loan bill ruling

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The government and the private sector have expressed their disappointment over the Constitution Court’s decision to drop the administration’s 2-trillion-baht transport loan bill. 

Prime Minister’s Office Minister Warathep Rattanakorn responded to the ruling, noting that it could have an impact on future legislation. He added his concern that the ruling could set a precedent for other legislative bills.

He warned that the content of legislation could be interpreted as having violated charter provisions and major legislation could be undone. According to the minister, if his party is elected for another term, it will amend the charter to avoid a repeat of the situation.

The Federation of the Thai Industries (FTI) has also voiced its disappointment with the final verdict, saying that it represents a loss of opportunity for Thailand to cash in on economic development. Thailand has not had a large infrastructure project for 15 years even though investment in logistics is necessary to bolster the country’s competitiveness, said the FTI.

The Fiscal Policy Office has, meanwhile, warned economic growth might fall short of 3% or even be less than 2% this year if there is no budget disbursement for infrastructure development. If the loan bill were to go ahead, 61.6 billion baht would be disbursed for the projects.

The Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday that the bill allocating 2 trillion baht for government infrastructure projects was illegal and violated the constitution. The ruling was made following a petition by the Democrat Party for the court to decide if the bill contravened Sections 160 and 170 of the constitution.

The seven-year infrastructure plan, intended to run through 2020, was initiated by the Pheu Thai Party administration and expected to start this fiscal year to serve as the main driver to revitalize the lackluster economy. The planned projects set to be funded by the massive loan bill included high-speed railways, highways and mass-transit networks in Bangkok.