Thailand plans $93 billion in spending in 2023 as budget debate begins

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BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s government on Tuesday proposed a spending hike to 3.185 billion baht ($93.24 billion) in the 2023 finance bill, to speed up what has otherwise been a slow economic recovery.

The bill, which is being debated in parliament, calls for spending 2.74% higher than the current year and a 0.7% drop in the deficit to 695 billion baht, or about 3.9% of the gross domestic product (GDP).

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Fiscal planners have assumed Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy will grow 3.5-4.5% this year and 3.2-4.2% next year, helped by domestic demand increased and a recovery in tourism.

However, the state planning agency recently forecast weaker growth of 2.5% to 3.5% this year due to global volatility.

“Under such circumstances, the government must implement an expansionary fiscal policy to support economic recovery,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told the House of Representatives, which plans to debate the first reading until Thursday.

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In fiscal 2023, revenues are expected to gradually improve as the economy recovers from an easing of coronavirus restrictions, he added.

The budget is crucial for Prayuth’s premiership, as failure of the bill’s first reading could force him to resign or dissolve parliament.

If passed, the bill will require two further readings in August before being submitted for Senate and royal approval.

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($1 = 34.16 baht)

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