PM rules out House dissolution
- Published: 19/09/2013 at 12:29 PM
- Online news:
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said on Thursday she will not dissolve parliament and call a snap election, regardless of the vote on the government's loans bill.
Ms Yingluck said before attending the House session to debate the legislation that the government has no reason to call it quits if the bill fails to pass the second reading.
She stressed the importance of the bill, which will give the Finance Ministry the green light to raise 2 trillion baht in out-of-budget borrowing for massive infrastructure projects over the next seven years.
Ms Yingluck has two years remaining in her term after a landslide win in the general election in 2011, and a solid majority in parliament to bulldoze through government legislation.
The opposition Democrat Party promises a tough battle in the two-day House debate, and promises to take it to the Constitution Court after the bill passes, claiming it lacks details and breaches government financial disciplines set down in the charter.
The opposition party has also raised concern about the decades of debt incurred by repayments of the loans, and warns that lack of details makes the projects prone to corruption.
The prime minister defended the bill on Thursday, arguing that financial discipline was at the top of the government's priorities and the expenditure of the loan monies would be scrutinised by the lenders.
With the megaprojects needing a long-term financial commitment, the option of using the state budget was not possible, she said.
The bill encountered no obstacle in passing the first reading in March, when the government used its majority with a vote of 282-152, with 21 members abstaining and seven deciding not to vote.
The second reading debate is set for Thursday and Friday. About 100 opposition MPsare lined up to speak.
Ms Yingluck told top bankers on Wednesday night that 60% of total borrowing is expected to be raised from local financial sources, and the remainder from dollar bonds.
The prime minister, accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong and other economic ministers, met with leaers of the Thai Bankers Association (TBA) to seek their support.
TBA secretary general Thawatchai Yongkittikul said after the meeting that local banks support the projects' implementation as soon as possible, to strengthen the country’s infrastructureand competitiveness in the long-term. Despite tightening liquidity in the local financial market, it would still be sufficient for the gradual seven-year project investment with funding of around 300 billion baht per year, he said.
“We have a clearer strategic plan of the government’s investment project following the meeting, and local banks are ready to support the country’s infrastructure megaprojects, which will benefit all Thai people and the country overall,” Mr Thawatchai said.
Siam Commercial Bank president Kannikar Chalitaporn also said after the meeting that local banking liquidity is adequate to support the infrastructure projects with gradual investment for the next seven years.
The banks’ loan expansion had slowedin the second half of the year in line with economic circumstances and an end of the government’s economic stimulus, especially the first-car buyer scheme last year. Banks have paid more attention to loan growth amid the economic gloom.
The government’s megaprojects would facilitate domestic investment and strengthen the country’s infrastructure, particularly transportation and logistic improvements, to prepare the country for the Asean Economic Community due to be launched on the last day of 2015, he said.
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Writer: Patsara Jikham and Somruedi Banchongduang