Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said today (Saturday) that he was satisfied with the deliberations over the budget bill in the past two days and promised to act upon the constructive suggestions proffered by the Opposition.
Regarding the 400 billion baht allocated for the Central Fund, the Prime Minister admitted that the figures look prohibitively high, but is not when measured against the various urgent missions and situations which require immediate disbursement of funds, including flood relief operations, pensions and urgent projects proposed by local administrative bodies during mobile cabinet meetings.
Defending the increased budget for the Ministry of Defence, the Prime Minister said that the missions of the military are not confined to just defending the country from invasion, but also cover interdiction of contraband, such as narcotics, from being smuggled into Thailand and non-military activities such as natural disaster relief operations.
Tens of thousands of troops are deployed along Thailand's borders, with many of them stationed in the Deep South to maintain peace and order in the restive region.
He defended the need for the military to procure new armaments, such as the Royal Thai Navy's plan to procure new vessels to protect Thailand's marine resources and to enhance the Navy's overall capacity. He pointed out that Thailand is not the only country in the region to be enhancing military capabilities.
Citing the flood problem, he said that about 2,000 projects of different sizes have been proposed, to address the flooding issue and, because of budgetary constraints, the Government must be selective in selecting those for implementation, with priority being given to those which are of the greatest importance.
Regarding the 300 billion baht investment budget, the Prime Minister said that, since investments in various large infrastructure projects are, and will be undertaken by the private sector, the 300 billion baht will be used as seed funding from the Government to supplement private sector investment.
He said that public debt, now standing at 41% of GDP, is not a matter of serious concern because of Thailand's ability to service the debts.
Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)