Parliament Backs B3.18tn Budget Bill for the New Fiscal Year

On Friday, Parliament voted to approve a budget bill for the 2023 fiscal year starting on October 1 in its first reading.

The 3.185 trillion baht budget intends to promote the recovery of Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, which has been significantly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The budget will support the economic recovery and society after a crisis caused by the outbreaks… and help restore strong and sustained growth,” Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told Parliament.

The bill was approved with 278 votes in favor, 194 against and two abstentions after a three-day debate. The opposition previously had 208 MPs while the government obtained 230-240 votes.

However, the bill has to pass the second and third readings in August before the senate and royal review and approve it.

Official reports showed that seven opposition MPs from the Pheu Thai Party and four from the Move Forward Party had voted to support the bill on Thursday.

The group included three representatives from the northeastern Si Sa Ket province, expected to join the Bhumjaithai Party coalition, one from the northeastern Udon Thani province, one from the central plains Nakhon Nayok province, one from northern Phitsanulok and one from Nakhon Ratchasima in the northeast.

The four Move Forward MPs included one representative from the eastern province of Chon Buri and three from the northern province of Chiang Rai.

All MPs from the coalition parties backed the bill. Those from the Thamanat Prompow faction of the Thai Settakij Party also voted in favor even though their support for the prime minister was in doubt.

The two abstentions were House Speaker Chuan Leekpai and Move Forward list MP Kasemsan Meethip.

The government plans to spend 2.74% more of the budget than the current year against a 695-billion-baht deficit accounting for around 3.9% of gross domestic product.

According to budget planners, domestic demand and tourism may boost the Thai economy by 3.5-4.5% this year and 3.2-4.2% in 2023. However, the National Social and Development Council has estimated a lower 2.5-3.5% growth in 2022 due to global volatility.