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Thai Cabinet approves higher budget for fiscal 2024 amid measures to boost economy

BANGKOK – Thailand’s new Cabinet on Monday approved higher budget spending of 3.48 trillion baht (S$132.9 million) for fiscal 2024, along with a higher budget deficit of 693 billion baht, it said on Monday his deputy finance minister.

The increased allocation comes as the new government, which took office in August, designs new policies to stimulate a sluggish economy burdened by weak export demand and low investor confidence.

“The Cabinet approved a budget of 3.48 trillion baht for fiscal year 2024… which is in line with economic conditions and revenue collection,” Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat told reporters.

The revised budget is higher than that approved by the previous government, which projected spending of 3.35 trillion baht and a deficit of 593 billion baht.

The new budget projects a 9.3 percent increase in spending and a 0.3 percent drop in the budget deficit to 693 billion baht, or 3.63 percent of gross domestic product, compared with the current fiscal year, the Budget Office said in a statement. .

The investment accounts for 20.6 percent of total expenditure, or 717.2 billion baht. The plan is based on projected economic growth of 2.7 percent to 3.7 percent in 2024.

The 2024 budget process was on hold until the new government took office, three months after the May elections.

Last week, the Budget Office said the budget would be ready in April 2024, well after the start of the new fiscal year in October.

The budget plan will go to Parliament for a first reading in early January and faces two more readings in early April before being presented for Senate and royal approval.

The new budget is in line with current economic conditions and fiscal discipline, government spokesman Chai Wacharonke said at a briefing.

The Cabinet also approved a 10.3 percent cut in electricity bills starting in September, to 3.99 baht per unit, to ease the cost of living, he added.

Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy grew 1.8 percent year-on-year in the April-June period and 0.2 percent quarter-on-quarter, a sharp slowdown from the previous three months.

It is now expected to grow 2.8 percent in 2023, Deputy Finance Minister Krisada Chinavicharana said last week, down from the ministry’s previous projection of 3.5 percent growth. REUTERS

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