House to debate budget bill again on Feb 13th after Constitutional Court ruling

The House of Representatives is scheduled to convene on February 13th to consider the 3.2 trillion baht budget bill for second and third readings, after the Constitutional Court ruled today that the bill is legal, despite evidence of proxy voting.

The Court decided by a majority that the budget bill is legal, except for those sections voted upon by at least one MP, namely Bhumjaithai's Chalong Thoedveerapong, in absentia, rendering the original vote unconstitutional.

The court ruled that proxy voting is an act of dishonesty, it breaks the 'One MP-One Vote' democratic principle and ism, therefore, unconstitutional.

Citing the pressing need for the budget to be disbursed, the court invoked Section 7 of the Constitutional Court Procedural Act, which empowers the court to order the House of Representatives to fix the problem, caused by proxy voting, by convening to redeliberate the relevant sections of the bill.

Secretary-general of the House of Representatives, Sorasak Pienwech, said today that House Speaker Chuan Leekpai had consulted with opposition and Pheu Thai party leader Sompong Amornvivat about the House meeting, and both agreed on the February 13th. If the debate is not completed within one day, then it will be extended until all sections of the bill are covered and voted upon.

After the bill passes the third reading of the House, it will be forwarded to the Senate for deliberation.

Mr. Phumtham Wechayachai, advisor to the opposition leader, said all six opposition parties agreed to debate the bill until it was completed, which could be on February 14th or 15th.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Kruea-ngarm said he expected the budget bill to be ready to be forwarded to His Majesty the King for approval before the end of this month.

Regarding the proxy voting, he said the matter should be looked into by the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)