Thai Bits: Thailand Sets New COVID-19 Record, Thai Politicians Fight Over New 500 Billion Baht Bill

Thailand Sets New COVID-19 Record

COVID-19 fatalities rose to 47 in Thailand over the past 24 hours, setting a new record, and there were 3,323 new infections, according to the Public Health Ministry on Thursday, May 27th, 2021.
There were 2,104 new cases among the general public and 1,219 among prisoners.
During the past 24 hours, 2,063 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospitals.
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic early last year, 920 people have died and 141,217 infections have been reported.
Over a 24-hour period, the previous record number of fatalities was 41, as well as 2,455 new Covid-19 infections.

Thai Politicians Fight Over New 500 Billion Baht Loan Bill

Following the budget bill debate next week, the executive decree to allocate 500 billion baht to combat the public health crisis is likely to be put up for parliamentary approval, according to the government.
Wissanu Krea-Ngam, Deputy Prime Minister, said recently that the executive decree, given the green light by the cabinet on May 18, did not violate any law.
Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala, former finance minister, petitioned the Supreme Administrative Court recently to revoke the cabinet’s approval of the loan decree intended to cushion the financial impact of Covid-19.
Thirachai claimed mechanisms to maintain transparency and fiscal discipline had been removed and replaced with a cabinet-appointed committee to select and propose projects.
Wissanu denied Thirachai’s claim that the loan contravened the Fiscal Discipline Act, saying the government had run a thorough check with its legal arm, the Council of State, and found no legal violations.
Similarly, intense scrutiny was also performed on the one-trillion-baht loan secured to mitigate the effects of the first and second outbreaks last year.
Thirachai, who served as finance minister from 2011 to 2012, also pushed to have that loan revoked.
The Administrative Court has no authority to intervene since the decree was already issued by the Cabinet and would be debated in Parliament, according to Wissanu.
Wissanu said the court had no jurisdiction over the petition since the matter was out of the cabinet’s hands.
Thairachai should have instead approached the Constitutional Court, he said.
Wissanu said he expected the loan decree to be approved by parliament after the debate of the budget bill scheduled for May 31-June 2, 2021.
Government whip Wirach Ratanasate said the budget debate would be finished next week, and the loan decree would likely be approved by parliament the week after.
Pheu Thai Party, deputy general secretary of the opposition, has also weighed into the debate over the decree.
According to the report, the public debt would rise to 9.2 trillion baht, or 57% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), after adding the 500-billion-baht loan.
According to Paophum, the public debt is likely to rise even higher, possibly to 63% of GDP, later in the year as the pandemic causes further financial damage, requiring more relief money and lowering the GDP.

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