Opposition party to propose severe cut of Bt2 trillion loans

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BANGKOK, June 5 – The opposition Democrat Party is seeking to slash the government’s proposed Bt2 trillion loans for infrastructure development to Bt200 billion due to inadequate details being presented for most of the projects, party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said today.

The bill on the Bt2 trillion loans, passed in the first reading by the House of Representatives, is currently under scrutiny by a House committee, of which Mr Abhisit is a member.

He said he would propose a severe cut in tomorrow’s meeting of the House scrutiny committee after the Democrat Party concluded that the government lacks details and readiness in most of the projects.

The government told legislators that the Bt2 trillion loans would be necessary for Thailand’s development of transport infrastructure which included building dual-track railways and rail routes for high-speed trains to promote region connectivity.

Regarding Moody’s Investors Service’s comment this week that the programme to buy rice above market price is credit negative due to higher than expected losses, Mr Abhisit said the negative rating was not so much of a concern than the future of Thai rice.

Thailand’s competitiveness in the global market will be jeopardy if the government continues to waste Bt200 billion a year from the national coffers for the rice pledging scheme, he said.

Only half of the budget went to farmers while the other half was unscrupulously spent, he said.

Democrat spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said damages from the rice pledging scheme were as high as Bt26 billion.

“The prime minister is accountable for the widespread corruption. The government still could not clarify the severity of the damages,” he said.