BANGKOK, June 6 – The House scrutiny committee resolved today to abide by the original bill on Bt2 trillion loans for Thailand’s infrastructure development despite the opposition’s insistence that the mammoth borrowing could be slashed to Bt200 billion.
Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, a member of the opposition bloc scrutiny committee, proposed a severe spending cut and criticised the government for failing to give detailed investment plans for the seven-year project.
“It is unnecessary to issue a bill for the Bt2 trillion loans. The government will need only Bt300-400 billion per year (for infrastructure development) if it follows the normal budget allocation procedure,” he said.
He said “the loans bill allows the government to spend money without having to go through parliamentary scrutiny.”
Varathep Rattanakorn, PM’s Office Minister and vice chairman of the House scrutiny committee, said Mr Abhisit’s proposal (on detailed investment plans) was unnecessary as the loans bill was already passed in the first reading by the Lower House.
He gave assurances that the government will carefully spend the money and said that Mr Abhisit’s proposal to seek annual budgets for the purpose, instead of the Bt2 trillion in overall loans, could disrupt the projects’ continuity when a government changes.
Chaturon Chaisaeng, a scrutiny member in the government bloc, said it is impossible for the government to use the loans for other purposes as an appendix in the bill clearly states the projects to be carried out.
He said some of the projects lack details as investments will take several more years and approval will be required on a project-by-project basis.