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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs          2  July  2011

Democrats stress fiscal accountability

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Korbsak Sabhavasu, a former secretary-general to the Prime Minister, is the Democrat Party's strategy director for the election.

We promise that our policies are capable of being implemented and are not just dreams, as you can see from what we have done during our term. You can already see in the draft of the 2012 fiscal budget that we would run a deficit of only 350 billion baht out of a total budget of 2.25 trillion baht. This proves that our spending is quite disciplined.

And for the next fiscal year, our draft will keep the planning moving in the same direction. For example, we have planned to expand state investment expenditure to around 483 billion baht to finance our existing policies. They include 77.77 billion baht for the 15-year free education programme, 114.52 billion for public health and 55 billion baht for crop prices insurance. We plan to raise the budget for the farm sector by 15 billion baht if we are returned to government, in order to help farmers cover their transport costs and earn a profit.

The combined expenditure on major policies is projected at 556.9 billion baht, including regular spending of 250.32 billion and funds for ongoing projects totalling 188.41 billion baht. The investment costs stemming from the new policies we have announced are projected at only 37.74 billion baht or 1.68% of the total fiscal budget 2.25 trillion.

For example, the investment in a standard-gauge rail line from Nong Khai to Bangkok would be only 3 billion baht in fiscal 2012. Construction of a high-speed rail line between Rayong and Suvarnabhumi Airport will be done under a public-private partnership (PPP) scheme, so it would not be a burden for the government. The harbour city [at Laem Chabang] is a 10-year plan and the first year will require only 3 billion baht in investment. As well, other investment projects are being planned and funds allocated cautiously. There is nothing to worry about if the country is being run on our fiscal plan.

Will your economic policies lead to an increase in public debt?

The Finance Ministry has just made its projections of public debt to gross domestic product from 2012-15, at 44.7 percent in 2012, 45.6 percent the following year, 46 percent in 2014 and 45.7% in 2014, below the ceiling of 50 percent. The ratio of public debt to the fiscal budget would be between 11.7 percent and 12 percent over the same four years, below the ceiling of 20% set out in the eleventh national economic and social development plan. We will adhere to these restrictions since it is our mission to achieve fiscal balance in 2015. We will not allow any extra budgetary items outside of the fiscal budget earmarked already if they are not really necessary.

I would welcome you to compare us with Pheu Thai, given its pledge to budget 1 million baht per village under its village fund programme, or the "one tablet, one child" scheme. That means it might need to seek 80 billion in support from the Government Savings Bank. Also, its proposed crop mortgage policy would require more funding from state banks. While this may not represent a burden in terms of fiscal expenditure, public debt increases are inevitable. How will your policies raise incomes for the people?

In terms of income, we will create jobs in tourism, medical services and agriculture, and in the creative economy by improving the infrastructure and promoting integration plans.

Tax restructuring should be implemented before we move forward with the policy to raise wages by 25 percent, as we have targeted to implement in the next two years, to give companies lead time to improve cost efficiency. We will continue with training courses for workers as they will gain more income if they have better skills, and will also have higher potential to be employed.

We also think Pheu Thai has a high risk of running up overwhelming public debt that will affect fiscal discipline.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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